To Sue

On Monday, I said something about my friend Sue and a poem I wrote for her way back when. Sue and I met when we both worked for a tree nursery in Door County, Wisconsin, in the late 70's. I drove a tractor pulling a tree planter that sat six. Six other women with a never-ending supply of evergreen seedlings. I hauled them up one set of rows and down another while they put tiny trees in the ground. It must be entirely automated now. I can't find a single picture of a tree planter with actual human beings aboard.

I drove a huge tractor in creep gear. It was rainy and cold. It was sunny and hot. It was muddy and dusty. The best part was turning the tractor at the end of the rows when I could stomp down on one brake and accelerate just ever so and the whole contraption would, in a big swoosh, wheel around and face the other way. Between those bits of excitement, to relieve the tedium of passing telephone poles at the rate of one every five or ten minutes, I wrote salacious limericks about the job, the bosses, the ... whatever. Sue, who was one of the six in the planter, loved them.

I wrote this poem for her birthday. It begins with a bit of doggerel that I couldn't get out of my head, so I went ahead with it and the rest just dropped out this way:

Lovely Sue with eyes so blue,
Long and lean and lissome, cool,
Honey hair and mind webs roaring,
Ice-cream colored flowers pouring
From her fingers.

Nets of dust and pain and laughter
Catch our earth-bound river daughter.

Mother Isis, feed her yoghurt,
With sweet aloe soothe her blisters
And on birthdays and the solstice
Bring to her the love of sisters.