Dirty face with dark, hollow eyes,
Looked no more than about twelve.
The breeze brought his sour, sweaty smell
Blowing in through the screen door.
Baggy pants shredded, too large,
In desperate need of mending.
He wanted work but food mostly.
Janey made him wash at the well
Then fed him cornbread and cold milk.
The boy finished off the afternoon
Helping Sam cut fence posts.
Janey could see from the porch
Across the pasture to the edge
Of the timber that the strokes of his ax
Were weak, ineffective, feeble.
Supper was quiet, subdued, cheerless.
He spoke not a word but thank you,
A little more, all right, and please.
Then, fell asleep on his empty pie plate.
Sam carried him to the porch
Wrapped in an old blanket.
A soft, raggedy pair of overalls
Under the boy’s head for a pillow.
The next morning
The porch was empty.
Boy, blanket, and overalls
Gone west in the dawn light.
Janey stood for a while
Staring down the road.
Somewhere, a mamma is
Grieving for her boy, she said.
I hope nobody steals the
Dollar I put in his pocket.