Our dad

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chickens

What would the undertaker say about this man?
He asked my sister, brother, and me for clues.
There lingers that memory from early childhood
Of waking to a cold draft from an opened car door
After the long drive home from visiting family friends,
Being carried by hard hands through the winter night
Into the familiar smell of home.
Wooden farm tools and door latches
Burnished to a gloss by the daily passing
Of those hard hands.
The tens of thousands of baby chicks given new life
By those hard hands.
The threat of discipline
From those hard hands.
The skills acquired by the watching
Of those hard hands.
The volumes of old tales, elucidated
By those hard hands.
The dying touch
Of those softened hands.

Gayle Gladding, 1912-2002, was a poultry farmer in Windsor, Ohio, on the farm settled by his great-great-grandparents in 1806.

— Harmon Gladding, Windsor, Ohio

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