Men Untrained To Comfort
Jason Needly found his father, old Ab, at work
at the age of eighty in the topmost
tier of the barn. "Come down!" Jason called.
"You got no business up there at your age."
And his father descended, not by a ladder,
there being none, but by inserting his fingers
into the cracks between boards and climbing
down the wall.
And when he was young
and some account and strong and knew
nothing of weariness, old man Milt Wright,
back in the days they called him "Steady",
carried the rastus plow on his shoulder
up the high hill to his tobacco patch, so
when they got there his mule would be fresh,
unsweated, and ready to go.
for another, bought a steel-beam breaking plow
at the store in Port William and shouldered it
before the hardly-believing watchers, and carried it
the mile and a half home, down through the woods
along Sand Ripple.
"But the tiredest my daddy
ever got," his son, Art, told me one day,
"was when he carried fifty rabbits and a big possum
in a sack on his back up onto the point yonder
and out the ridge to town to sell them at the store."
"But why," I asked, "didn't he hitch a team
to the wagon and haul them up there by the road?"
"Well," Art said, "we didn't have but two
horses in them days, and we spared them
every way we could. A many a time I've seen
my daddy or grandpa jump off the wagon or sled
and take the end of a singletree beside a horse."
~ Wendell Berry, Leavings