Poem: What I Did Not

What I Did Not

It is a bad habit.
I stop.
When I see something curious, I stop.
When I see something beautiful
or particularly ugly, I stop.
I stop and talk to strangers.
I stop and listen.

Not just to people.
I listen to the wind.
To the sounds of the city.
Motors in the distance.
A rattle in the back of the car.
Waves. Birds in the distance as they scream
at the latest threat.
I listen to the enemies of God,
and the lovers of God.

I can remember my own grandfather,
a pig farmer in far off Virginia.
He drove the back roads
in his red International Harvester pickup.
He drove slow, rubbernecking in slow motion,
stopping at the farms, at the edge of the swamps.
I never knew if he was listening, looking
or breathing in the air, so different
from the city air you were raised in.

You often wondered what he saw.
What he understood about the air
that I did not.

About this poem.

The bit about my grandfather is true. At times, I feel like he lives in me as I do so many of the same things, like stop randomly as I drive. I still cannot tell you what I see sometimes. But I take the pictures, figuring that in time, it will come to me.

Tom

4 comments

  1. Tom, thanks for your poem and remembering your Grandfather. I think the astute observation skills of farmers is universal.

    I, too, recall riding with my farmer uncle who saw, heard and smelled numerous details as we drove down country roads – me bouncing along on the other side of the pickup’s bench seat. I was always amazed at the things he observed. I recall him turning around to drive into a neighbor’s farm when he happened to see the small flames of a fire that had traveled from an overheated transformer down the cloth covered electric lines to just begin to start their house on fire. We were able to quickly extinguish the flames and save their house even though they weren’t at home. He left a note on the back door.

    Awesome photo also!

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