After a summer drought a desperate

cry went out:

“The well went dry!”

Cistern empty, pump lost its prime,

leathers dried out, a drained rain

barrel covered with cobwebs.

An unrelenting sun shrivels corn,

oats and barley in hard scrabble soil.

Harrow, cultivator and rake idle,

pallbearers for parched acres that once

grew billowing waves of timothy hay.

With callused hands and bony fingers he

grabbles crumbly soil, once purple rich loam.

A desiccated landscape remains, odd

patches of burdock and chickweed.

He curses the cloudless sky as the sun flares down.

After milking the cows, in a rum induced rage

he kicks his stool across the barn, spooking

the horses who winnow in fright.

He shovels the last of the silage out of the silo,

splits and stacks wood till his lumbago kicks in,

biting his back like a kick from a gelding.

Curled up in bed with a hot water bottle,

he falls asleep in his grimy union suit,

dreaming of summer days as a boy, riding

his prized Palomino, winning4-H awards

for his Rhode Island Red Bantam Rooster

and 300 pound hog.

Awakening to autumn winds heaving

scraggily branches of Sycamore trees

he knows he’ll soon be melting snow,

the only water for the winter ahead.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605