Such and such a cabin
I bought this book of poetry on a whim, and have been enchanted from the first page. Millen Brand reminds me of Carl Sandburg, only friendlier:
The Last Families in the Cabins
by Millen Brand
Excerpted from Local Lives: Poems About the Pennsylvania Dutch, ©1975
At a bend in the Bally-Dale road,
in a low growth of woods
an unused log cabin still stands,
its adze-squared timbers weathered
into black bars between the mortar,
and some of the bottom logs thrust out.
“There are few cabins left in these hills,
none lived in at the present time,”
the Reverend Elmer Johnson says. “In my young days,
when I began the flour route
for my uncle, Joseph Schultz, the miller,
in the late eighteen eighties,
there were still four families
lived in cabins. Only the poorest
by that time would live so.
My uncle gave me orders
my first day with the wagon,
when I would come to such and such a cabin,
a woman would come out,
and would have with her a receptacle.
She would say how much flour she needed.
I should give her what she asked.
As I was told, so it happened.
I came to a cabin, the woman came out.
She reckoned, so many loaves of bread,
and the children should have a small cake,
so she explained how much she needed.
I tried to give her more, but she refused.
‘Only so much,’ she said.
Then she said, ‘I don’t have money.’
‘It’s no matter,’ I said as I was ordered,
and closed the wagon up and drove away.
Because people could not pay
was no reason why they should not eat.”