What Frightened Me?
What frightened me about my time
on the farm? Let me start
with the death of it all, electric
fence plowing field, my great grandfather,
mounted on a rusted tractor,
sat me down one morning
when I was old enough to play
secret spy and yard restaurant
on my own. He said, Don’t touch this.
The first time I had a friend over
I impressed her by posing my hand
to the shape of the braided wire,
said, This could kill you.
The only family photo before the time
of eleven great-grandchildren
and persistent mothers posing us into perfection
consists of my great grandparents,
two of their four children, and the carcass
of a buck strung upside down.
Living on a farm means not only looking
the whole truth in its eyes,
but also having pride in it.
I learned this at six, my hand a mouth
curled around death,
ready to bite.
“What Frightened Me?” is a poem I wrote in 2018. It was published under the title “After Reading ‘What Did I Love?’ by Ellen Bass” in The Southampton Review, which you can read online.