The dirt on the head of the mattock
Has been there since who knows when
I don’t think Pawpaw has used it since they moved here
That was before I was born.
But I lift it from the wooden workbench
Just outside his backdoor
And marvel at its age
They don’t make ‘em like this anymore
This skinny, bare-wood handle
The light, narrow blade
Bearing still ancient evidence of primitive industry.
Where from, these warts of soil, brown and yellow
And now fixed on the blade as if burned there in the forge?
Was there some last trip up Ellis Mountain
To dig ramps in the spring, or harvest ginseng in the fall?
Was the old man young then? Young enough to joke as he walked
Or chase my infant father as he ran ahead?