A Sharecropper’s Prayer

“Every summer was so hot. I can remember heat waves dancing across the fields. I also remember my daddy praying for rain one night. He was sitting in the porch swing by himself. Farming was hard. One time my daddy and brothers poisoned cotton all day. (i.e., sprayed insecticide) Late in the afternoon a heavy cloudburst came and washed all the poison off the cotton. They did it again the next day.” -Memories of the Depression, Aunt Alice

I ain’t askin’ fer much, Lord, jes’ thankin’
for the woman and six healthy sprouts
that ain’t starvin’ like some in the cities.
Bless the pore out o’ work down ‘n’ outs.

Lord, I know folks is keepin’ ya busy
day ‘n’ night with their aches ‘n’ complainin’.
an’ I don’t mean to whine, but I’ll tell ya,
we’ll be mighty obliged when it’s rainin’..

Maybe, Lord, if it’s comin’ tomorrow
an’ it ain’t too much trouble to swap,
you could turn it a-loose in the mornin’
so we’ll know not to poison the crop?



cc-by-nc-nd  2002 Mary Boren


The photo is my grandfather in 1906.

View discussion on this poem.

Teach Me


Forgive me when my dangling participles,
unfocused thoughts, and split infinitives
induce in me self-consciousness that cripples
the will to seek your company.  It gives
me comfort, peace and pleasure just to know
you’ll wait for me, or meet me where I am or
you’ll even carry me when I can’t go
another feeble step alone.  I stammer
and sputter, clear my throat, and awkwardly
aspire to eloquence; my speech unable
to hold a candle.  Still, you’ve offered me
an all-abiding welcome at your table.

You wrote my heart; you know the words I’d say.
In silence, Father, teach me how to pray.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2003