Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How To Make Hay

Back in the day
When I was a student
In the fifth grade at
John Marshall
Elementary School
In East Hampton, L.I.
I had a good friend
by the name of
Robert Tillinghast
who came from a
long and noble line of
family farmers

(Not me
I came from a
not so long and
hardly noble
line of landless
Romanian peasants
who came to America
mistakenly thinking
that the streets
were lined with
But be that
as it may)

As a class project
each of us had
to be responsible
for growing a
potted plant
(This was intended to
teach us all
the meaning of

In any event
my poor potted plant
was not doing very well
and since I did not
have a so-called
green thumb
I was at a loss
as to what to do to
revive my potted friend’s
health and vitality

I mentioned my plight
to Tillinghast
who gave the plant
a once over
with his seasoned
farmers eyes

Give the plant some
cow manure
he said without hesitation
Cow manure?
The words were unfamiliar
to my city slicker ears
Yep he said
a little crushed
Cow manure
that will do the trick
He even offered
to bring me some
grade A cow dung
from his farm
if I wished

That’d be right friendly of you
I said talking as country
as I could muster
but no need to go
out of your way

No trouble a’ tall
he said
Happy to do it!

True to his word
The very next day
Bob brought
a Dixie cup
worth of
cow dung
to feed to my
ailing plant

Sure enough
a few days later
my potted plant
had perked up
considerably and
seemed to have
a whole new
lease on life
and I received an
A for my
potted plant project

After graduation from
high school
Bob continued to work
on his family’s farm
(as he happily did
until his dying day)

I went off to college
the first graduate
to do so from
East Hampton High!)
to major in
French Lit
and though
I have published
plays and poems
I have never
Bob Tillinghast
and his little
Dixie cup of
cow manure!

And on those
rarified days
when inspiration
escapes my sight
I think back on
Bob T’s
sage advice

There’s nothing like
a little manure
to get things
flowing right!

Philadelphia, Pa. 2012

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