Winter Mornings in Red Hook
by Michael Escoubas
after Farm in Red Hook, NY ~ by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

Winter days always began early–
frost-glazed windows made getting up a hard thing to do.

Our oil-burning furnace wasn’t vented to heat the upstairs,
but once up and moving around the chilly air becomes

my life-tutor, determined on making me strong.
Entering the barn the acrid odor of wet straw in stalls

where the cows had been, hits me with a fist
of urine and dung. I rake the wet straw into the wooden

two-wheel muck cart, then fork fresh straw down
from the mow, push the cows out the big squeaky doors

as the rusty roller-track moans for a squirt of oil.
After breakfast of biscuits soaked in butter, two eggs

with yellow eyes, crispy bacon strips, followed by
canned peaches from the fruit cellar, their sweet sauce

dripping down my chin . . . came the best part of getting up:
Mother’s weathered hands caressing my chapped cheeks,

as she warms my face with kisses, “Get on with you now,
don’t miss the bus. It’s already waiting down the lane.”

Life in Red Hook, its sweet memories–

a place, I like to visit, now and again . . . cherished
for the work and tough love, that grew me into a man.


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