What Have I Done


Tobacco Slave

I was a tobacco slave at thirteen.
For weeks, I tied the waist-high plants
to overhead wires in acres and acres
of gauzy hothouse tents, then moved
into the cooler and ancient sheds and
waited for migrant-driven tractors
to bring me the harvested leaf; dragged
and carried and hung the sodden and
sticky crop level upon level, fearing
my inevitable fall from rafters, then
dragged and carried and hung it again,
shed after shed after shed
all my teen-aged summer long.

Poets and Storytellers United
~ Writers’ Pantry #72 ~
poets and storytell

8 thoughts on “What Have I Done

  1. After reading your poetry, many of us are going to reach back to the days of our youth .. hot summer days and the work we performed .. me, in the fields on my grandparent’s farm.

  2. Love how you have set the atmosphere for slavery in ancients sheds and the dragging and carrying
    I picked strawberries at that age, sitting on your knees in the rain on the straw. We had fun though and were eating a lot of strawberries and pressing them on our sandwiches we brought in. We only received 2.50 Dutch guilders for a crate

  3. I’ve seen those tobacco sheds in the hills of Kentucky, where I lived once upon a time. Hanging tobacco is a thankless task at best…and dangerous at worst.

  4. For a casual worker it is good to do even though it’s hard work at times…probably convincing younger people to study hard and get a better job as a career!

  5. The title reminded me of tobacco advertising tactics.
    Why did I think of marijuana when I read “…harvested leaf”?
    Silly me. Love your poem.

  6. Sounds like tough work, best left to the young and/or fit. I’d probably injure myself if I tried it now (heck, I wasn’t in all that great shape when I was a teen either).

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