FROM MY DAUGHTER’S FARM:
DROUGHT AND HEAT
It isn’t Texas, after all.
We’re only thirty miles in from
and weather comes from the west.
How could we not have rain?
In May and June we sweltered.
Clouds towered on the horizon,
but no rains came.
Pastures turned brown;
they looked as if we’d had a brush fire.
In the coop my daughter found a dead chick.
Our dependable Columbian Wyandottes
We turned on sprinklers
to cool the cattle and the horses
(neighbors lost a milk cow
in the heat).
With nothing in the fields for grazing
we are feeding hay—in summer.
It’s gone from twenty
to eighty dollars for a bale.
From the roadside,
feed corn looks to be fine.
But the cobs aren’t filling in.
(Feed and hay will be sky high
this fall and winter too.)
This spring a friend of ours put
sixty thousand into seed;
he’s lost it all
and has no crop insurance.
We slaughtered our steers and heifers.
We’ll have to sell some breeding cows
to folks who can still
afford to keep them.
We’re seriously discussing
getting out completely.
. . .
Last night, rains came—
pounding, driving against
our parched, dry fields
The air cooled;
we slept upstairs.
This morning I wore a jacket
to do the chores.
In the henhouse
there were four eggs.
It’s at least enough
One of the cows did not come up for grain.
I found her far across the pasture
under the shady pines,
nursing the smallest calf I’ve ever seen—
new this morning.
Our horses are feeling frisky,
butting each other
and rolling in the mud.
After chores, I took the dogs for a long walk.
A morning like this is almost enough to make you hopeful.
But I doubt the break will last.
I removed my wedding ring today.
After thirty years, I just took it off,
rolled it between my fingers,
and gazed at the track
it left behind:
deeply incised upon my finger,
a thin, pale, bluish band of skin
the color of an oxygen starved infant.
I selected the ring myself,
much as if a slave
had selected her own shackle,
a prisoner, his own chains.
The hand lay empty,
freed of its metallic bond
but deeply marked by an
ugly, ineradicable strip
of repulsive, lifeless-looking skin.
I slipped the metallic circlet back in place
where it settled into its accustomed task—
hiding the stain of an ugly little scar.
Terry Ford is now semi-retired from four decades of full-time teaching for Kent State University at Stark. In that time, she served as English department coordinator, spoke and presented at numerous academic conferences, was featured in campus literary publications, earned a distinguished teaching award, and was honored as a distinguished woman of the university. A longtime supporter of Ohio and Midwest writing, she was a perennial organizer and grant writer for the Midwest Writer’s Conference. Now teaching only a few classes, she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, and grandmothering.
Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Chaffin Journal; Corium Magazine; Existere; Foliate Oak; Folly; Grey Sparrow; Meridian Anthology; Our Town, North Canton; The Portland Review; St. Ann’s Review; Schuylkill Valley Journal; and Viral Cat.
Her published work can be viewed on her website: terrywford.com