by Anne Maren-Hogan

A new suit of overalls has among its beauties
those of a blueprint. James Agee

In matching Osh-Kosh overalls,
straw hats,
and identical names of James,
father and son
lean on the horse-drawn rake.

Oats in March, corn in May,
beans last,
just in time to start cutting hay.
In his fresh indigo overalls,
the son steps
into planting time.

The father’s overalls, a subtle blue,
weather-worn by wind, sun, sweat,
like his face and arms.

The overalls cover the chest,
a protective shell.
Hips heavy with pockets,
room for pliers and handkerchiefs,
as their hands glide
to rest in front pockets.

Crossed straps lie flat
as a harness on their backs.
Baggy stove pipe
pantlegs allow
fence climbing then kneeling
to taste soil.

Mealtime, overalls bring
the outdoors in, grease smears
from fittings, pig manure,
fresh hay hanging from cuffs.

At day’s end overalls dangle on pegs,
distinct shapes,
after conforming to bodies,
submitting to all the daylight hours.

They drape the bedroom wall,
ready for dawn,
when again the men pour
into them, rousing them
back to the work
of desperate sky-watching,
sniffing the air, for clues of what’s to come.

Anne Maren-Hogan writes and gardens in one of the oldest intentional communities in the country. Her childhood on an Iowa farm, which her family still farms, provides material for her poetry. Her first chapbook, The Farmer’s Wake, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her second chapbook, Laying the Past in the Light, published by Longleaf Press, looks at the mystery of death and resurgent power of landscape. Her manuscript, Vernacular, was chosen as Honorable Mention by the North Carolina Poetry Society in 2020.