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, 
almost touching, 
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.

The accompanying photography for this piece was shot by Audrey Gretz.