Two Poems

At the Class Reunion, I Catch a Glimpse of My Father

Rocks and dirt spraying like fireworks, Alvin says.
That was the first time I met your dad,
when he blasted out a new ditch on our farm.                           
I was still in grade school out in Catawba—
the early fifties. Bulldozers
were big and clumsy then,
built for roadwork. So he didn’t hire one.
Instead they dug holes,
packed them full of fertilizer,
poured in diesel fuel, and set them
off with a stick of dynamite. 
We always had dynamite on the farm
for stumps and clearing fields.
But your dad was the one                                                        
who knew to use that combination.
I was about ten. I thought
that was really something—
dirt and rocks exploding in the air.


A Good Thunderstorm

“He used to surprise me—
we’d have a good thunderstorm
and I’d see him out there
walking across the field and I’d say,
What the heck is he doing?”

When Andy Pohlod, with his tonsure
of white hair and his air
of country sense and humor,
tells me this about my father,

I think at first I will set his words
unattended on a page,
let them tell their own part
of who my father was. Only,

isn’t there something in his tone,
a farmer’s sly
assessment of a city man
who learned from books 
and when I find it here
leaking into the poem,
I’m an anxious girl again, ready
to defend, can’t
stop myself from writing

my father was the kind of man
who took pride in fine work—that’s why
he walked in a thunderstorm
to check the new-dug ditches.   

—Sue Chenette, Toronto, Ontario, Canada