For A Friend

The sky is captured in his eyes, clear and blue.
The weather etched smile is honest.
The slender face says sixty; it lies.
It is that and half again.

Knobby hands sun baked and brown
peek out from ragged gloves.
They seem part of the old split locust post
where they are resting;
one of the row of soldiers
that keep watch on their field and its occupants.

The smile broadens as I approach.
I help stretch the wire.
His archaic dialect fills the road
with cows and snow and the yankees
that his grandparents saw marching.
The hours pass pulled by the mule
he plowed with as a boy.

He mentions his wife
they'd been married almost 60 years.
She 'took sick' and died (at her own hand)
some 15 years ago.
(it is sad what people must do to escape pain)
But he only remembers the little things
she did so often to help him
they are bittersweet candy.
I know he misses her.

I smile as we finish.
He offers to pay me,
but I refuse it.

by Eric Ericson

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