My Father's Tractor
by Scott T. Hutchison
Mom isn’t sure; knows he tinkered
and babied it, an old Ford, the “weekender”
model. I feel obligated to bushhog
the empty pastures that are hers alone now.
I’m a once-a-year son back here from out-of-town.
My knowledge of the contraption exists in this
repetition: same good woman, standing by,
patient, arms folded comfortably in belief –
I hear the motored memory of him cutting across
back pasture, suddenly howling, I once again see swarms
of yellow jackets rising up out of hidden ground nests
stinging metal, stinging the man, who kept on
because of the job before him. The waving hand
from the porch, preparing salves. Rolling land, free
of obstructions – stumps he’d pulled, over countless years,
tractor and chain. I can’t get it started. Patience
waits beside me. I fiddle, ineptly, in the workings.
Another key turn, and she’s with me, Mom
standing proud, saying my father did that for us
because he still looks after things. The bushhog
remains hooked up from past times; I pull away
and follow the cradles of the land. There are homes
in the ground waiting for me. Lives that defend
simplicity, end instinctually. She’s moving as if
she knows. I am here, repeating patterns. Tall grass
releases seed tops, weed placates. The hum of this life
steadies. The hand waves at me, at something beyond.
I smile, look up and down, turn the wheel.
Scott T. Hutchison is a native of Ashland, Virginia, and grew up on a small thoroughbred racehorse farm. His work has appeared in The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. New work is forthcoming in Blue Ridge Literary Review and Amoskeag.