Mary Graham

a quieter way of life

the sounds were so different then…

the pinging as the first squirts
of milk
hit the bottom of an empty pail,
bubbly, frothy noises as the level rose

the here-and-there words of Mom singing
as she separated, believing she really
couldn’t be hear over the whir
of the Vega

the back-and-forth rhythm
of the websaw,
the intermittent thudding of the blocks
as they fell one by one on to the pile

the crack as the axe bit through
a frosty stovestick, sending the hunks
tumbling off the chopping block

the rattling of the coal as it rumbled
its way out of the angled
back of the truck
racing down into the bin in the cellar

the complaining of the blocks
as the rope
stretched to the end of the yard,
the loaded hayfork muttering
up to the loft

the crackling of the dried cattle corn
as shock after shock found itself
on top of the greenfeed on top of the hay

the fussing about of hens and ducks
and geese in the barnyard where
pecking order really meant
what it said

the cooing our our pet pigeon Paddy
erroneously named before anyone
took notice he was a she

the rusling up of animals —
Scotty and Sport,
Booboo and Betty, Sand and Gravel,
Millie and Nellie, on first name basis
with every one

the dragging of music and words
as the Gramaphone wound down before
managing to get to the end of the 78

the comforting of the teakettle
set back
a bit on the stove, undecided about
coming to a boil or cooling it
for the time being

the lapping, soft and smooth,
of the thick,
sour cream as churning changed
what was
into lumps of sweet, new butter

…all all-but-forgotten sounds now

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