Picking Up

Evelyn Duncan
During the depression
my mother, teetotaler,
but thrifty to a fault,
surprised my father and me
when she cobbled up a still,
kept it on a shelf behind the kitchen stove,
and salvaged a crate of too-ripe pears
by making brandy, pouring it into Mason jars,
and storing them on the cellar stairs.

When my father found a better job at last,
and movers came one day to move our stuff,
"A shame to have this go to waste," we heard my mother say,
offering them the brandy, which they polished off.
They soon grew happy at their work,
hanging a chamber pot and her Sunday dress
on outside panels of their battered truck
and speeding off into the dusk
before she could protest.

We closed the house, cranked the Model-A, and started out,
following over stony mountain ruts,
but soon were stopping now and then
when headlights showed familiar shapes
lying in the road or ditch: first
the chamber pot and dress; next, 
a chair, a bucket, and a box of sheets.
But drunk with hope, we praised our luck,
sang "Bringing in the Sheaves"
as we collected what the truck had dropped.

From Picking Up by Evelyn Duncan. Copyright © 2008 by Evelyn Duncan. Published by Bright Hill Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Picking Up by Evelyn Duncan. Copyright © 2008 by Evelyn Duncan. Published by Bright Hill Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Evelyn Duncan