Food on Fridays: The Poetry of Potatoes

For the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe. We’re pretty relaxed over here, and stories and photos are as welcome as menus and recipes. When your Food on Fridays contribution is ready, just grab the button to include with your post. It ties us together visually. Then fill in the boxes of this linky tool to join the fun!

Food on Fridays with Ann

I’m reprinting this poem about potatoes in association with The Writing Life: Beginnings, Pt. 2, published Friday at Tweetspeak Poetry. I figure it fits with Food on Fridays because, you know, it’s about potatoes (except it’s not).

This poem did not make it into the undergraduate literary journal mentioned in my “Writing Life: Beginnings” story, but after I graduated, I submitted it to a local poetry contest where it was selected as one of twelve winners. Each winning poem was printed up on large placards and mounted inside the city buses to enrich the lives of its passengers. “Field Hands” was featured during the month of March in 1992. I’ve often wondered what the riders thought of it, or if they noticed it at all.

Field Hands

My father asks me why I’m so dirty.
I say it’s because I played in the field with Becky.
I won’t tell him I worked from two until suppertime
helping pick potatoes with the Hammons in their field.

I won’t tell him how warm and rich the earth was
when Mr. Hammons plowed through, leaving dry ripples
for us to dig our hands in to fish for potatoes.
Or how we picked up six-inch worms and threw them at each other,
while tossing potatoes into ratty bushel baskets.

I like going home with limp hair,
stringy from the summer wind,
and a film of dust on my arms and legs.
When my mom asks me to wash the dishes,
I’ll say I’m too tired.

© 1992 Ann Kroeker

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  • Comments

    1. I love your poem, Ann. I’m sure many of the commuters who saw it were taken with it too! Thank you so much for hosting Food on Fridays. I’ve shared a Spiced Plum Cake, just right for this time of year.

    2. I’m seeing this poem for the second time, and each time a question popped into my head when I read lines 3 and 4: “Why ever not?”

      Maybe you have a post or poem somewhere that holds the answer? :D

      • Ah, Ruth. I wrote a lot about my Dad in college, through poetry, as I was sorting through memories. I suppose I should write some more poems. Or maybe, someday, memoir. I have not said much publicly about that relationship, but it would have been hard to go home and tell my dad that I’d worked my tail off for the neighbors–and had fun doing it because they made the atmosphere pleasant, with a sense of teamwork as we all pitched in to get the job done–and yet did not want to do chores at home.

    3. I know the answer to Ruth’s question….

    4. I did not have a thing to post this morning and I opened my file and just wrote what came to mind early this morning. I ran off to my meeting and uploaded when I arrived home around noon.
      To see you had also posted a poem and God placed in my heart to post a poem of sorts.
      What can I say…He is Holy… He heals and molds who we are as we work. Your piece is very powerful and restorative.

      • Your poem feels like the slow morning pedaling into motion. Love it.

        Thank you for being here, for your words. You yourself are restorative. I’m so glad for your friendship.

    5. I love your sweat and limp hair and dirty hands. I am sure a lot of riders on the transit enjoyed your poem and related to it. My post today is a story about the red hots candy. No recipe today

    6. Spuds and a father. What could be better? I love this, Ann. I’m a little jealous of those who are fortunate enough to be studying with you and Charity.

    7. My father? Or Mr. Hammons? It was a complicated time in my life…much more fun to be helping the Hammons pick potatoes, to be honest, and I’m sorry I was so lazy at home (sorry, Mom!).

      Sheila perhaps Tweetspeak will let us host this again and you can join us?

    8. good idea to do a food thing.
      and if i were riding the bus, i would totally enjoy reading the poem.

      we are just getting into grape harvest and that means many meals will be made for all our winery working friends throughout this crush season. weeks of work. feeding around fifteen to twenty-some…hungry and tired…midday and evening.

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