Visiting them one weekend, working together,
laughing, joking all the while, unique accents
from their home in the mountains and then
a cut happened when I was just three or four.
In the soil outback, digging dirt, wrapping burlap
around nursery stock, probably a little azalea.
A German Shepherd named King prowled around,
while a wild girl with straight, long blonde hair
rode in on a horse without a worry in the world.
It had to be the cut that sealed the moment
in my brain, and when I saw him with his full head
of thick white and gray hair, I remembered it jet black.
I remembered the black beard that perfectly framed
his sharp, angular young face with piercing eyes
and tanned skin, the man who always worked.
His arms were still sinewy, his body still wiry.
I was old enough to notice a sadness in his eyes.
And now, twenty years later, I saw the wrinkles
and lines etched in his tanned skin, all those years of
riding tractors under the blazing sun, in slicing wind.
He wrestled to pull his wallet from the pocket of his
steel gray Dickies work pants and strangely enough,
it matched the skin on his neck, the backs of his hands,
it was weathered too from riding along with him
in the fields and Interstates, and when the billfold opened,
he said to me in his Southern drawl,
“I always knew you’d come back to us.”
And with his driver’s license, and scraps of paper, there I was.
A picture of five year old me.