Aroostook County Son
Aroostook County son,
I remember you.
The you that you were,
the you that you told to me.
Back then, you were 10,
tow-headed (whatever that means),
brown armed and red cheeked from working
in the sun, working in the potato and then
the broccoli fields on the Foxcroft Road,
Littleton, Maine. 1943.
I remember you, little one,
and the softness of yourself deep inside.
You hid from the world.
Back then, the war was still on.
You feared the German prisoners
of war who worked alongside you
on the farm, smoking their hand-rolled
cigarettes. They seemed strange, but also
like everyone else.
I remember you, little man, how you lived in the secret life
of games in the shed and the sheep pen,
after chores, but before bed.
Back then, brother Lewis was in charge, and you
did what he told you to do. Even when
it got you in trouble and the night
ended with a trip out back to cut
your own maple switch
to be beaten with.
I remember you, little boy,
and how you thought the now of then was forever
and that what’s next would never come.
Back then, in the deep of winter when it snowed,
the pond cracked late at night and the cows were still.
The night was your time. A time
for dreaming of summer,
of when you’d get your own room,
of learning to drive the tractor yourself.
I remember you, little Hud,
because when I look in my own eyes
at night, I see you in me.
I see you in my clear hazel gaze, yes,
but also in the deepest part of the inner me,
in the self that’s hidden away,
tender and soft, like that boy’s heart,
sensitive and true. I see you in my soft smile,
yes, that’s slow to come,
but also when I’m overwhelmed
by the beauty of smallness.
I remember you, County son,
because that little boy has made me,
because that boy was my father,
because you were me
and I am you.