Summer Frost
August 1981

“Summer Frost,” New Era, Aug. 1981, 21

Summer Frost

He grew with the garden,

Watching wide-eyed while daddy tended the creeping,

curled vines and blossoming pumpkins.

Solemnly he dropped sharp, tear-shaped seeds into

crumbling brown furrows

And gazed smiling while daddy covered them with his

quick iron hoe.

Daddy always laughed then and said,

“All of us can’t be farmers. Just the lucky ones.”

Dad and he stomped in every day around dinner time,

smelling of freshly turned earth,

their skin glowing golden brown.

Cradled under dad’s arm was a banged up tin colander

brimming with fresh vegetables

ready to cook.

Every year was the same ’til this.

I remember him peering up at me,

grinning weakly behind a wayward shock of hair.

“Carry me out to see the garden? Dad says the peas are

coming on.”

The sun seemed to burn from behind a sheet of thin gauze,

distorting everything in rippling waves.

Dad said it would be a very big year for squash.

The blossoms were beginning to crumple,

dropping lightly to the ground.

Then last week, the bitter, unexpected frost descended,

biting into tender stalks,

mercilessly wasting the promising fruit.

I sat watching from my upstairs bedroom window.

Daddy trudged back slowly,

kicking at the impervious weeds along the path.

And I waited to hear the coughing from the room next to mine,

the hacking coughing.

Wishing it would stop,

wishing it would go on,

wishing it would go on.

I crept down the stairs as dad came in.

He sat down slowly

and put his head in his hands.

His muddy boots glittered with tiny flecks of frozen dew.

“The harvest is lost,” he whispered

as mother placed her frail hand on his shoulder.

“I know,” she replied softly. “I know.”

Photo by Fred Karoly