Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At the end of the furrow, his father called, "Gee!" and leaned his plow over so that it could ride around the headland on the share and right handle. "Well now!" he said, as if only to himself. "Whoa!" he said to the mules. And again: "Well now!" He came over to Art and put out his hand and Art gave him his.

Art saw that there were tears in his father's eyes, and he grinned and said, "Howdy."

Early Rowanberry stepped back and looked at his son and said again, "Well now!"

Mart came around onto the headland then and stopped his team. He and Art shook hands, grinning at each other.

"You reckon your foot'll still fit in a furrow?"

Art nodded, "I reckon it still will."

"Well, here's somebody you don't hardly know," Mart said, gesturing toward Roy Lee, "and who don't know you at all, I'll bet. Do you know who this fellow is, Roy Lee?"

Roy Lee probably didn't know, though he knew he had an uncle who was a soldier. He knew about soldiers - he knew they fought in a war far away - and here was a great, tall, fine soldier in a soldier suit with shining buttons, and the shoes on his feet were shining. Roy Lee felt something akin to awe and something akin to love and something akin to fear. He shook his head and looked down at his bare right foot.

Mart laughed. "This here's your Uncle Art. You know about Uncle Art." To Art he said, "He's talked enough about you. He's been looking out the road to see if you was coming."

Art looked up the creek and across it at the house and the outbuildings and barn. He looked at the half-plowed field on the valley floor with the wooded hillsides around it and the blinding blue sky over it. He looked again and again at his father and his young nephew and his brother. They stood up in their lives around him now in such a way that he could not imagine their deaths.

Early Rowanberry looked at his son, now and then reaching out to grasp his shoulder or his arm, as if to feel through the cloth of the uniform the flesh and bone of the man inside. "Well now!" he said again, and again, "Well now!"

Art reached down and picked up a handful of earth from the furrow nearest him. "You're plowing it just a little wet, ain't you?"

"Well, we've had a wet time," Mart said. "We felt like we had to go ahead. Maybe we'll get another hard frost. We could yet."

Art said, "Well, I reckon we might."

And then he heard his father's voice riding up in his throat as he'd never heard it and he saw that his father had turned to the boy and was speaking to him.

"Honey, run yonder to the house. Tell your granny to set on another plate. For we have our own that was gone and has come again."
Wendell Berry, from "Making It Home", from That Distant Land.


Jena Carper said...

OO Wendell Berry. :)

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