I was fourteen, wiry, strong,
with skin browned by a fiery sun.
Its rays beat down on my head
in those humid summer fields
where I slowly ‘walked the beans’.
Walking the beans meant pulling up
the sticky, thorny Jimson weeds
that grew wild among uncle Paul’s
perfectly furrowed rows of soy beans.
It was also known as Devil’s Snare
and richly earned its evil name.
The work was backbreaking, hot,
and my soft ‘city boy’ hands
were soon torn and bleeding bad.
Aunt Beulah tended to my pain
with Mercurochrome and love.
The work had to be done, of course,
there was no use complaining.
Uncle said, “Before you harvest beans
you have to rip out the work of Satan.”