In Ann Arbor, I’m reading obits
in The Weekly from Ohio hills
a day’s drive southeast. I know
almost no one now, including Luther Hoops,
who loved the Lord and worshipped
many years at Fairfield Baptist, which
sits halfway up a ridge near Soderburg,
four hundred German Catholic souls
a little north of Wargo’s curve.
Beer was legal there. Still is.
Luther Hoops: navy gunner, Normandy survivor,
36 years a dozer operator, Southern Ohio Coal.
Surviving are Lena, his loving wife of 62 years.
six sons and four daughters — only one
lives more than twenty miles away.
He farmed, carved wood, restored machines,
enjoyed family cookouts and golf cart rides
with his beagle, Jimmy — where gravel roads
bend in maple shade or straighten out
along a field of beans.
In Amish country one summer
I saw a plow horse lying dead in a field.
Three of his thick-legged mates
had arranged themselves around him
and stared. I thought they looked solemn,
worried. The fallen horse was another
kind of thing now, and they wondered
what to do. They stood together and waited
till the farmer came to coax them home
with feed he shuffled in a bucket
to make a good, familiar sound.
What do draft horses eat? A farming wife
in some Ohio place had answered:
Ours get plain oats — two scoops.
I mix a couple drops of corn oil
to knock down the dust. Ear corn —
four ears and alfalfa hay — free choice,
mainly grass mix — but richer
if we’ve got spare and they worked good.