High Cotton

With Real Toads Photo Prompt, photo by Ellen's Edge "Cotton"

 

I never knew when I was young what it meant

to be ‘walking in high cotton’ until I saw

the waves of cotton fields across the

panhandle of northern Texas.

 

We stopped by the road to pick a few to see

if they were really cottony soft and white.

Flat horizon and  cotton as far as you

could see, it went forever and then.

 

Older now I know, that high cotton means work,

hard and back breaking.  Even with machines

there is nothing easy about cotton but

how it feels combed and smooth.

 

“Walking in high cotton” means a bumper crop

with the hard work still to come and still

we grow it, we pick it and we bale it.

Sell it and someone wears it.

 

I feel like those cotton fields sometimes,

do different from a distance than close

up and in your hands. The hard and

the soft grow together here.

 

We don’t grow cotton on the northern plains,

we grow corn, soy beans, hay and canola.

We raise cows, hogs, chickens and

sometimes we raise hell.

 

We dance in the fields and in the dirt here.

We chase the cows and fix the fence.

We raise our kids and our dogs

and we love on the land.

 

Remembering the first time I saw cotton fields as we drove across Texas as a child.  I thought the white and black fields would never end under that flat horizoned sky.  Those endless plains on that endless drive keeps me seeking hills and trees but it reminds me too that we who farm and ranch do it because we love it.  Copyright 2012 Shanyn Silinski.  Prompt from With Real Toads today.

 

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21 Comments

  1. February 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I included the picture of cotton on the off chance that someone would write a poem just like this one, and this is ample reward: to see the cotton with the eyes of a passerby and then again from a farmer’s viewpoint.

    The hard and
    the soft grow together here.

    Wonderful work spoken in true poetic voice.

    • shanyns said,

      February 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Kerry – thank you! 🙂 Wow…you honour me.

      • February 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        Shanyn, I notice in your comment on RT that you are also a photographer. Please contact me if you would be willing to feature your work on a Sunday Challenge.

  2. hedgewitch said,

    February 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    This is a really excellent poem about a sense of place, of ourselves not only viewing, but of, the landscape. To me there’s almost a desolation in any monocrop field, especially the huge ones, like another kind of desert, even though they are bringing forth life–I think you poem kind of touches that sense, but also affirms why it has to be that way. Really enjoyed this.

    • shanyns said,

      February 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      You are so right, a mono crop field, especially the big ones, can be so desolate looking…even a waving field of my favorites flax, sunflowers and lavender, can become a kind of desert, welcoming only their own kind. Great that you stopped by and thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed.

  3. February 26, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Wow, Shanyn. I loved that photo of the cotton, but couldn’t think of a thing to say about it. It was waiting for you, just as Kerry said.
    K

    • shanyns said,

      February 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Kay – thank you…you two must be right, it was waiting for me. Brought back some interesting memories! So pleased you stopped by and left some love!

  4. Ella said,

    February 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I love your view and love hearing your words. I like how you wrapped your childhood around this image. It was great to read your guided imagery, I feel as though I was there! Beautiful…
    I remember the first time I saw it. Driving by the field, I saw a blur of white I thought it was snow. I call it “Southern Snow”… I investigated further and couldn’t get over the hard outer shell. You are so right it is the hard and the soft~ I am so glad you chose to share your poem… I love the same
    linel “the hard and the soft grow together here”

    • shanyns said,

      February 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Ellen – thanks for sharing your photos! They are stunning. I kept hearing the Alabama song as I wrote this, and thinking of all the kinds of crops it could refer to not just cotton. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the poetry your images inspired. Makes my day to hear I did honour your work with my words.

  5. February 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I too love your view on this one. My mom used to tell me of the days she picked cotton as a young girl. It was a hard job in a hard life. Nice work!

    • shanyns said,

      February 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      Susie – picking cotton is a very hard job, I can’t imagine a child having to do it nor an adult. Thanks for coming by and sharing about your mom. Glad you enjoyed the poem.

  6. Mama Zen said,

    February 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I love the truth of this!

  7. February 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

    I enjoyed the country feel of this piece

    • shanyns said,

      February 27, 2012 at 2:41 am

      Thank you! And thanks for coming by…it’s great that you did!

  8. February 27, 2012 at 12:26 am

    High cotton indeed! A well-composed write. We dance on the fields and in the dirt here, too — except that we raise hay, and had I grown up on this farm, I would’ve raised hell, too! Nifty poem. So glad you chose this photo. (So did I!)

    • shanyns said,

      February 27, 2012 at 2:41 am

      Mary Ann – thanks! 🙂 Nothing like growing up on a farm or a ranch! I am so pleased you enjoyed the poem.

  9. CC Champagne said,

    February 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen cotton grow ‘live’… But this… This beautiful poem, Shanyn… I so wish I could see not just the cotton grow, but also how you raise hell on the Northern plains! Lovely!!!

    • shanyns said,

      February 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      CC – you may one day come visit and raise some hell with us, and then we could tour down south to see the cotton fields. Thanks for coming by and I’m so glad you enjoyed the poem.

  10. Ruth said,

    February 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    there is nothing easy about cotton but
    how it feels combed and smooth.

    The hard and
    the soft grow together here.

    And I love how in the final stanza, it all (hard and soft) rolls together, in the way of life truly lived. Really a beautiful poem, Shanyn.

    • shanyns said,

      February 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      Thank you Ruth. Your comment means a lot, and I appreciate you coming by to read. Glad you enjoyed it.


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