A Poem from the heartland of British Columbia
My Old Man
Gordon A. Long
My old man’s a logger.
Seems like he can’t do nothin’ but complain about it.
Freezeup comes late, then it’s too cold, then there’s too much snow,
Next thing you know, it’s raining, and it’s breakup.
And talk about summer!
The rainstorms, the bugs, the heat and dust and mud and hornet’s nests.
It’s pretty tough, I guess. But it brings in the old paycheck
…when he’s working.
You know, it’s rough at home when he’s out in camp,
But it don’t get much better when he’s back.
You see, when he’s out there, he thinks he’s missing out on things
Like basketball and school plays, and…discipline.
So when he’s hanging ‘round here because the logging isn’t happening,
Which is a lot of the time,
He’s on my case every time I so much as twitch.
Last month I guess it all worked out:
The weather, the stumpage, the price of logs.
He stayed in camp four weeks, working seven twelves.
Then finally he got home.
It sure was great to see him.
For about ten minutes.
Then my mother started in with all the things I did while he was gone.
For a while I had a faint hope he was too tired to say much,
But then I saw his face, and I knew I was in for it.
But he was just getting rolling on me,
When Mum got on him for his “camp language.”
But we got through it. We always do.
In fact, once we got that off our chests, things got pretty good.
We all jumped in Dad’s truck to go to the movies.
It’s a ‘98 Ford 350 4 X 4 diesel with twenty-inch mudders and a big custom bumper with a winch.
It’s got this clean-dirty smell inside: sweat and fuel and new-cut wood.
It doesn’t bother me. I sit in the middle, and he lets me shift the gears.
The other day, I told him that you don’t “fall” a tree,
My teacher says the proper word is “fell”.
He just grinned and reached across and ruffled my hair up,
And said he’s glad I learned something in school,
No matter how useless it was.
Then I remembered; the machine he drives is called a “feller-buncher.”
Make me feel stupid, or what.
My old man’s a logger, and I guess I’m kinda proud of him;
After all, they keep this city alive.
But I’ll never be a logger.
I’ve got to find a job that keeps me home.
With my kids.