I grew up in western Nebraska, so I’m no stranger to corn. As a kid, living out in the middle of nowhere, corn was my friend. My mother, god bless her, couldn’t afford toys, so my first “saftey blanket” was an small ear of dried corn.
I’d sleep with it, talk to it - hold it close to me when papa would give momma her dinner beatins. He was a mean dad, never really felt loved by him, and he’d always be aggressive and say nasty things to us. He was dedicated to his field of corn, spent hours plowing and planting. Always said his corn field was his “first son.” I don’t think he could ever love momma and me the way he loved that corn. I don’t blame him though, we all loved it. Corn was the superstar in our household.
Really… we couldn’t get enough of it back then. Dinners often included corn, corn bread, corn tortillas, Niblets corn in corn sauce, creamed corn casserol, corn fritters and various other corn dishes. Our household was religious so we didn’t eat any green vegetables or fruits. Especially figs, devils food, that’s what it was.
One day… well, we didn’t save enough corn in the silos. We ate our fill and sold our entire crop and stockpile to the community who loved corn as much as we did. STUPID! You always need a corn stockpile. You never know what will happen.
We suffered a bad drought and didn’t have our stockpile anymore. It killed our crop and all of our neighbor’s crops. Papa lost his first son and kinda just went mental, you know? Going weeks without the corn, it was hell. I’d hear him and momma arguin lot, the dinner beatins got worse. I heard him bawling in his room, shut up and didn’t want to talk to any of us. We’d reverted to eating the greens to keep us from starving, god forgive us…
One night, I guess he had saved a bottle of his favorite corn whiskey and drank the whole damn thing. One of those liter bottles. He was stumblin around, cursin at us, beatin momma. And I felt a rage in my chest like I’d never felt before. I was tired of him hurting her. I was pacing outside of the kitchen, holding my dried ear of corn tight. Till I walked in, saw him standing over my mother. I walked up behind him and punched him right in the back of the head, still holding my corn. He fell down and rolled onto his back. I never really got angry before, but it was like a wall broke and I couldn’t control myself. I was in a fiery rage and kept punching him. Beat papa like he beat momma all these years. Just worse. Heard his bones crunch when I beat his face, felt the blood spatter on me when I hit him. I BROKE MY CORN EAR! I couldn’t stop. Why couldn’t he love us like he loved corn? When I finally stopped, he wasn’t breathing. I was cryin, momma was cryin, my corn ear was broke.
The next day I dragged him out to the field. Burned his body in a huge pile of dried corn husks. Couldn’t have the town sheriff findin out now could we? I regret what I did, but papa was a bad man. It was hell on the whole family. But I’ve moved on from that. I have my own family now and my own corn crop which I love. I guess that’s more a story about my life than about corn, but it has had a big impact on me.