By special request of a friend I am posting poetry that I wrote based on memories of growing up on their farm. I have written here about summers running free, an abandoned house in the woods, the last time the hay harvest was stacked by hand, the calving that I witnessed when I was 4, and a walk with a childhood friend, Nick, across the snow-covered fields when we were in high-school. Some of my best childhood memories are from those farm days, and I’m so lucky to have had all those experiences!
Farm Children: Bare-foot Summers
mulberry-stained feet, sun-browned skin,
we swam naked in the creek, painted
ourselves with clay, ran helter-skelter
through the corn playing fox and the hounds.
Scrambling through lofts, we stumbled
across forgotten books, paper-thin
snake skins, a dozen eggs hidden behind a mirror.
In the warm, dusty hay barn,
we waited out the august storm
drumming on the tin roof,
burrowed deep and safe.
Now, there are no tracks in the dust
to show where we scaled a wall,
or jumped out a stable window. There are no
voices in the barn lofts. The hay stays neatly stacked.
The black rat snake
hunts in peace.
The Porcelain Bathtub
abandoned houses hide their dead.
when people have left
dust settles, nature creeps in:
ivy reclaims walls, trees twist through windows,
leaves pile into corners.
sunlight gleams on a claw foot tub
crouched on the cracked bathroom floor.
cobwebs gather dust and dead flies,
a mouse lies curled in a porcelain prison,
and around the house grass grows
through broken bottles and smashed pieces of tile.
[EDITED: January Dawn Happening has been removed as it is being considered for publication.]
The Last Hay Harvest
The men are in the fields,
Bare backs and shoulders glistening,
Red with heat and too much sun.
They move steadily up and down
The rows of square baled hay,
Picking it up by the rough twine,
Throwing it into the back of the red pick-up.
I run out to join them,
A young girl with skinny grasshopper legs,
Long blond hair a tangled mess.
They lift me up to sit on top of the bales.
As the truck slowly makes its way
Across the field, I gently sway back and forth,
Sharp hay pricks my bare legs,
The men heave and stack.
I am happy to be up so high,
To be part of this August harvest.
Then a sudden trembling, an unsteadiness.
I cry out, and as the bales begin to tumble
Like a collapsing human pyramid
Someone cries, “Jump.” I don’t know
The man who reaches up to catch me
But I leap into the air—
His strong arms jerk me from free fall.
He places me gently on the ground.
My heart beats swiftly, I duck my head,
Murmur thanks. Then walk to the grassy bank,
Watch the men get back to work:
Restack the hay, continue across the field.
In memory of Nick Sharp 1990-2007
The world is gray and white
a wash with pale blue and silver moonlight.
Trees reach slender fingers to the heavens
their black silhouettes stretching along the ground.
Our shadows hurry before us
slipping silently over the rolling blanketed fields.
Above a lone goose honks,
his solitary cry breaking the silence.
If only we could break the bounds of earth
and fly with him,
our soft wings beating together
through the night sky.
Photo Credit: me. Farm in Carolina County Spring Bird Count