Slop Bucket

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Piggie, our pet black pot-bellied pig, has lived long enough for all of my four sons to bring him his daily slops bucket, made up of peelings from daily meal preparations and unwanted meal leftovers.  At first the boys thought it was cool to feed the pig.  But then Winter came, and the slops bucket needed to be taken out every day in freezing temperatures (usually at night because they had neglected to do it during the day), and the water bucket froze and the ice needed to be broken every day, and I insisted that the smelly slops bucket be rinsed out before being brought back inside to its place under the kitchen sink, the chore became less glamorous. Piggie lives on.  On occasion a family member hopes out loud that the pig will choke on an avocado pit, but only in jest.  (This poem tells of the slop bucket chore from the John’s perspective ten years ago, with me, his dad, looking on.  Hyrum took the photo today.  The poem relates to the post Chapter 13: Of Goats and a Pot-Bellied Pig on the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.)

Slops Bucket

The wintry day was gone,
the frosty night full on,
and Dad held the slop bucket out.
“You forgot your chore, son,
and the pig is hungry.
You’ll have to go out,
though it’s cold and it’s dark.”
I stomped and I cried;
I begged him not to send me out
into the fog-filled frosty night.
But Dad just handed me the brim-full bucket.
“I’ll keep the porch light on:
you’ll be fine.”
Dressed for the cold,
I heaved on the handle,
and stepped into the night.
My skin all goosebumpy,
I followed the frozen-mud path
through the tall, stiff iron grass.
A low rumbled grunt
made me start, and then shiver,
and look warily around
at dim shadows and darkness.
Pig stood at the gate in patient anticipation.
“Here pig,” I snorted, and dumped the warm slop.
As pig smacked and slurped,
a white vapor rose like a phantom,
and I turned to run the way I’d come.
On the porch, in the light, stood my dad,
in his slippers, arms crossed in plaid flannel.
He smiled at me as I came.
I warmed, then, because
I knew I’d done good;
so did he.
I knew I’d done right;
so did he.
And I knew I’d grown up just a tad.

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5 thoughts on “Slop Bucket

  1. ecrofts

    I love the endearing photo of Piggie, and I loved the way you took a different angle by writing this beautiful poem through John’s perspective. You have captured the essence of that experience so vividly, and it brings to my memory the many times my own children have had to trudge out in the cold and dead of night to feed and care for forgotten chickens and rabbits, as well as taking out Lucy, our indoor dog, on her leash to do her nighttime “duty”. You have created a home life where character is built and strengthened through work and responsibility. You are a loving and devoted father with children who not only love and adore you, Roger, but will one day “rise up and call your name blessed” for all the lessons they’ve learned by your side.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Melissa Shaw-Smith

    Maybe I should get a pig to prick the conscience of my sons–taking out the compost isn’t nearly so imperative when there isn’t a hungry pet depending on it. Nice poem!

    Like

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