Worked like a mule, when not in school, below the scorching sun.
I couldn't treat my calloused feet. My work was never done.
Near idle plows, I milked the cows. A barn, we didn't have -
but under stars, the land was ours and where our cows would calve.
With weary hands I filled the cans. Their tails they would flick -
and sting my eyes while swatting flies - then bucket, they would kick.
Two hours flat, was done with that, from my familiar stool.
The cows backed off their drinking trough where I put milk to cool.
The morning after, I worked faster, hitching up the team.
One called Nancy, the other Topsy - hauled our milk and cream.
Those two old nags had swayback sags. They were a stubborn lot.
I must confess, they lacked finesse. Race horses, they were not.
The wagon bad, but all we had, so up my brother climbed.
The little whelp was not much help, but "Giddy-up!" he chimed.
As we would sing, the cans would cling the four miles into town.
Population: Twenty seven - but that's if we're around.
With morning sun, that work was done - but now, another day.
We'd fertilize while bread would rise and maybe bail some hay.
I always worked - and never shirked - my duties. I was nine.
But God gave strength to me at length - and life was truly fine.
This poem was a finalist in the January 2013 poetry contest