by Ray Maxie
of high and dry prairie land, level as a floor.
I thought I'd wait and see you first, as Lawyer Brady said,
to tell how things should turn out best, a woman is ahead.
And when this land is all paid for and we have got the deeds,
I know that we can wait a while for less important needs.
Then we will see about the yard and fix the house up some,
and manage in the course of time to have a better home.
There's no use of talking, Charles. You buy twenty acres more,
We'll go scrimping all our lives and always be land poor.
For many years we've tugged and slaved, denying half our needs
and all we have to show for it are tax receipts and deeds.
That other farm we bought of Wells', it took so many years
of clearing land and fencing in, it cost us many tears.
I've grieved to think of many months, of many weeks and days,
and for it all we've never had a single word of praise.
Men call us rich, but we are poor. Would we not freely give
that land and all the fixtures for a better place to live?
If we had built a cozy house, took pleasure as it come,
our children, once so dear to us, would never have left home.
I'd sell the land if it were mine and have a better home,
with broad, light rooms to front the street and take life as it comes.
It's so sad, putting off enjoyment long after we enjoy.
After all, too much wealth seems a useless, broken toy.
If we could live as others live and have what others do,
we could live a good sight pleasanter and have a plenty too.
While others have amusement, fine luxury and books,
think how stingy we have lived and how this old place looks.
Were I to start my life again, I'd take each separate day,
and never let a single one pass unenjoyed away.
Don't think that I am blaming you, Charles. You're not one bit to blame.
I've pitied you these many years, to see you tired and lame.
It's just the way we started out, our plans too far ahead.
Having worn the cream of life away, leaving too much when we're dead.
If there were things to envy, I would have them now and then.
I would have a home that was a home, not a cage or dismal pen.
With life passing through these years so fast, it really makes me wonder,
why we have not toiled harder for a glorious life up yonder?
But I have always thought, and still I think so yet,
that small farms kept well worked are, God helping, the best bet.
N. Ray Maxie is a former Texas highway patrolman and Special Texas Ranger. Following his long service with the state of Texas, Ray worked in loss prevention for the nation's railroads. Now retired, he enjoys writing personal essays and memoirs (no fiction) about his youthful experiences growing up in northeast Texas, the Ark-La-Tex area. Ray also shares his tales of career experiences from Texas highways, southern backroads and "pig trails." He lives near Houston with his wife of almost fifty years and five precious pets.
Two more Ray Maxie stories at USADS:
* Shadows in the Moonlight
* Caddo Lake ~ Texas
And here are two from other publications:
* Wanted for Murder
* The Unforgettable Lightning Bolt
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