It was after a long day of bucking bales.
I was hot, itchy, smelled of sweat
and straw and old-truck fumes.
Pretty sure I bucked the most,
definitely bucked my share –
and all the way to the top, too!
I was seventeen, law-abiding,
and had not acquired the acquired taste.
Plus, I was kind of scared of alcohol
(I had my reasons).
I put the last bale in its place,
wearied myself to the truck
and put back the sideboards.
Next, I took off my leather gloves,
soft from hard use;
my hands smelled like saddle.
I took off my wet grassy shirt
and hosed down cold.
Everybody else had started
pulling beers from the cooler
when my step-dad gave me the nod –
I didn’t often get the nod.
So, I shoved my hand into the crushed ice,
got myself one, and braced
for the bitter. But it was good.
It was real good.
I let myself lean
on the rusty tailgate, wiped my face
with the wadded-up shirt, and savored
that goddamned nod.
Naugatuck River Review - Summer 2012