Sound Advice

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Sound Advice

I’d been digging a trench
from our well pump to 
the house most of the morning.

My hands were eleven years old then,
and angry blisters had
ripped open the skin.

My stepfather, reeking 
of tobacco and whiskey,
stepped out to supervise.

“Deeper,” he growled, 
“The pipes will freeze where 
you’re putting them.”

An hour later he returned for
a second look. 

“You’d better get
a good education, sonny boy,” he said,

“because you’re the laziest 
sonofabitch 
I’ve ever seen.”

I learned important lessons that day about 
blisters, gloves, and laying pipes, 
but most valuable of all 
was discovering what the man really 

thought 

of Mom and me.

Never have been able to 
forget those lessons.

Shunned him, I did.

Cherished Mom, I did.

Took myself to college, I did.

. . . j
from the Childhood Remedy and Other Such collection