Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

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,
came out to supervise.

"Deeper and faster," he said.
"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 and frozen pipes, but most valuable
of all was discovering what the man thought of

Mom and me.

Never have been able to
forget those lessons.

Shunned him, I did.

Listened to Mom, I did.

Took myself to college, I did.
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