Harvest in Maine

Potato House
Abandoned potato house in winter
Russets, Mountains,
Katahdins, Kennebecs
by the
picked and tossed
from stretching
into barrels
wood and
hands with dirt
too deep for
bones and back
so stiff from
trucks rolled in
and barrels
kept them
moving never
child and man
worked side by
harvest was
their family

© Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved
Spring on the farm
Another Day

into wooden barrels
too large to carry
children off school
pickers for a month
to help
bring in the harvest
trucks full of
potato barrels
rumbling up
to the potato house
to drop off their
starchy treasure
white gold
in brown dirt
the barns are empty
and cave in
for lack of
metal and motors
do the job of
hands and wood
new steel buildings
replace the old
stone and wood
and I am sad
when I can’t find
potato house
to take a memory

©Donna JT Smith, all rights reserved

Most hand picking and barrels have been replaced now and the tradition of calling off school for the month of September for the high school kids is not really necessary any more.  They are not needed for the manual labor on the family farm that they used to do, having been replaces by machines.

Written as a response to the Poetry Jam prompt today on harvest time.


  1. Harvest used to be a very big event, after all it is why the long vacation is in summer and why we (in France) only went back to school in mid-September when I was a child. All this has changed but I am sure there are parts of the world where this is still true, a 'family pride' indeed.

    1. It was, and is, still a big event in some parts, but they don't need the kids as much as they did. I don't think that's a good thing for our youth. They have nothing to do.

  2. Your poem evokes memories of what life was once like in the not-so-distant past. There is something to be said for families working together like this, everyone being part of the harvest. I would imagine it brought about a closeness that I wonder sometimes if families have other ways of attaining today. I enjoyed this, Donna.

    1. I think there is a great bond when families need each member to survive! Now we have bonding over tv, electronics, fast-food, and vacations. It feels a bit less necessary to be a 'family' when it's just for the frivolous conveniences.

  3. this presents a wonderful scene of labor of love...I am certain however hard work that was everyone involved had a great time of togetherness...the happy mood is well reflected in the rhythm and really love that nostalgic yearning for a potato house...

    1. Oh, how I wished I had realized what we were losing earlier. I have only a few pictures of the old buildings.

  4. So many rich scenes in your words and they really evoke pictures of bygone times. Captivating

    1. My husband grew up farming potatoes, and I taught up in Aroostook for a bit. High schoolers would start school the beginning of August so they could take off later for harvest. It doesn't seem so long ago...

  5. "white gold...." luv that line; thanks for dropping by my blog, have a nice Wednesday

    much love...

  6. Both are lovely, but I especially like the first one. = )

  7. Both of these are very well done. I too thought of the disappearing things from harvests past. Never even thought about potato harvesting--I suppose they were stored in the potato barrels or something like that. thanks for this glimpse.

  8. I also regret not having taken photos of important things that have now disappeared forever. THought provoking poem.

  9. So much has changed since then. Now the family rarely even eats at the table together. Love both poems here Donna. The photos are wonderful :-)

  10. Wonderful tribute to one of our dietary staples - the humble potato. While your poem is full of the gratitude of the harvest and the bounty of Autumn, I could not get the potato famine in Ireland out of my mind...


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