Another Workday

By Robert Erle Barham

February 24, 2020

Another Workday

“Daddy, are you going to work?” my son asks when he sees me wearing a jacket and tie before I leave for campus and a day of teaching. Years ago my father’s work boots and overalls prompted the same question from me before I was old enough to join him on the farm. I stare down at my son’s sleepy smile and remember all that my workday will not hold. The pale delicacy of first light in the field and aches from the day before. The tractor’s rumble, bounce, and glide as it traveled turnrow to turnrow, the blades of the plow throwing dust and dark earth in wakes. Mud-strained slogs down cotton rows irrigated with cold well water, and the pendulous buzz of a crop duster just out of sight. The snap and shuck of corn, peas, and butter beans. The thick pungency of butchered livestock and game—duck, deer, dove, and squirrel. And at the end of it all, after dusk had settled what was done and undone, the cotton gin’s thrum through the night to the other side of hard sleep where there was light for fresh labor. 


Robert Erle Barham teaches English at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and he lives with his family in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Photo Courtesy of Blake Barlow from Unsplash

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