Ox Cart Man
In October of the year, he counts potatoes dug from the brown field, counting the seed, counting the cellar's portion out, and bags the rest on the cart's floor. He packs wool sheared in April, honey in combs, linen, leather tanned from deerhide, and vinegar in a barrel hoped by hand at the forge's fire. He walks by his ox's head, ten days to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes, and the bag that carried potatoes, flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose feathers, yarn. When the cart is empty he sells the cart. When the cart is sold he sells the ox, harness and yoke, and walks home, his pockets heavy with the year's coin for salt and taxes, and at home by fire's light in November cold stitches new harness for next year's ox in the barn, and carves the yoke, and saws planks building the cart again.
From White Apples and the Taste of Stone. Copyright © 2006 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.