A Scrap of Land and a Snip of Sky

Today would have been Dad’s 94th birthday.

My mother and father built their house in 1954. Even leaving the upstairs unfinished, the building process cleaned them out. In early 1955 money was terribly tight.

To have something to wrap for my father’s 39th birthday, Mom copied out an unsigned poem she found as a column filler in the Saturday Evening Post, illustrated it, and put it in an inexpensive wooden frame. (So you know that I come by my pack-rat tendencies honestly, in 2003 Mom came across the 2″x3″ magazine scrap and showed it to me.)

The size and frame made scanning difficult. You can double-click to enlarge, but even then you may be challenged by my mother’s distinctive spiky handwriting. (When I was eleven Mom wrote to me at summer camp, saying, “It’s so exciting. We have a new —” and then came an impenetrable pricker bush. I puzzled over that letter forever. A new airedale terrier? A new chimpanzee? I longed to have a chimpanzee. When I got home I discovered we had a new AIR CONDITIONER in the laundry room, the first and only air conditioning the family had for about thirty years. Very exciting, indeed, but not really what I dreamed of.)

Here is the poem:

When I get money enough, I’ll buy
A scrap of land and a snip of sky
With maybe a brook to set it off
And serve a bird for a drinking trough
And a tree to shelter a family house
Where I’ll live, calm as a country mouse.

I’ll be there, if you care to look,
Slumbering by the sleepy brook,
Or marrying bulbs to a bit of earth
Or reckoning up a rainbow’s worth,
Or strolling the boundary, soft and slow,
Listening to my whiskers grow.

 

 

When I was small this poem hung in our basement playroom. I remember standing in the hall, reading it on the wall, and thinking that it was a masterpiece.  For me it captured not just my parents (our house had a brook; they were always marrying bulbs to bits of earth) but practically everything that was exciting about growing up.  Having land and a family house was always my dream.

Eventually the poem made its way to Mom’s attic and eventually, thence, to me. It hangs in our mudroom now. I’ve got my scrap of land and snip of sky. I’ve got my family. The house, I’m working on. And someday…

I’ll be there, if you care to look,
Sorting lambs with a shepherd’s crook,
Or milking a cow into a pail
Or threshing grain with a home-made flail,
Or strolling the fields, rocky and sour,
Crossing off chores that fill the hour.

Happy birthday, Dad. Thinking of you with love.

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6 Responses to A Scrap of Land and a Snip of Sky

  1. Susan Womersley says:

    What a wonderful tribute. I love the poem and may, if you don’t mind, hang it in my house, too!

    Susan

  2. Noodles says:

    Thanks for this lovely memory. I believe that the illustration is by Sibyl Goldsmith, our artist neighbor on Driftway Lane. It’s definitely Mom’s handwriting– in gold ink. I was so impressed as a six year old. For a while, I thought she wrote it since it was so clearly about our parents and our house and land!

    N.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Aren’t you smart to know that about Sibyl Goldsmith, whom I barely remember even as a name. I didn’t know she was involved. And I too thought Mom wrote it until she told me no. But you can imagine my face when she produced the tiny Post clipping 48 years later. LOL

  3. Regina says:

    I LIKE this. I need a verse about horses too. However, poetry, like carpentry is one of my failures. ;))

  4. Amy says:

    Wow, that is lovely! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Sue says:

    Just came across this poem while continuing my read through your blog! I love it! It really calls to me as April 19, 1955 was the day I was born. I continue to enjoy your blog entries—Thanks again!

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