Hair wild as a hedgehog, my kid brother Benny
spins over the landscape just like a lost penny.
Brown as a gingersnap baked by the sun,
he cannot be stopped ‘til he wants to be done.
No iced tea can lure him, for he’d rather sip
from a cold rushing river and then take a dip,
roll in the tall grass until he is dry,
then turn on his back to look up at the sky
at eagles and swallows and dragonfly wings
and flop over again to watch earthier things.
No hearthstone can rival the lure of outside.
He will jump on his pony and take a long ride
to fill up his day with natural pleasures,
stuffing his saddlebag with priceless treasures––
arrowheads, fossils and bottles whose glass
has turned purple from years in the sun and the grass.
Who can explain a country boy’s mind?
Such pleasures cannot be explained or defined.
Just leave him alone, for there’ll be time enough
to smooth all those edges the world may call rough.
For now, he’s a nature boy, unique and wild,
giving birth to the man that will grow from the child.
Christine Goodnough sent me the above prompt words and since I’m incapable of turning down a challenge, this was the result. The poem didn’t start out being about my dad but somewhere in the middle, I realized perhaps it was. This is a photo of him at age 13 on the homestead that he grew up on. He moved into town when he married my mom, but farmed and ranched the homestead plus land he later acquired until he sold the ranch after I graduated from high school.