On a Farm One Makes Hay

Making hay was a story by itself. We used what we called our tractor, but which was actually a pick-up truck painted red, to pull the mowing machine with one of us sitting on it, raising and lowering the double row of blades that moved back and forth cutting the grass. The next step was raking, with either me or my sister sitting on the rake and raising and lowering the curved black iron fingers that left neat rows behind them. As we later tossed pitchforks of hay up and over to make sure both sides were properly dried, I often had to do double time, for my sister had found an insect she was interested in and lagged behind. It was hot in that July sun, we sweated, we itched with the prickly hay getting under our bandana tops as we pitched forkfuls onto the wagon.  At the end of the day, riding on top of the fragrant hay on its way to the barn was what we liked best. 

One of my favorite memories is of bringing in the hay. My father must have had a faculty meeting or been away on a school trip because it was just my mother and me, loading the wagon and driving home in the moonlight. Just the two of us. With the sweet smell of hay and the crickets vying with the motor of the tractor. I hope she knew how special that evening was.

Sunday Afternoon (Aug. 15, 1993)

It’s hot.

Been hot all month.

Should I sit out in the street

or stay inside?

I try

outside

but it’s afternoon,

that time of day when the stones

have drunk all they can

of sun

and return the excess

to the air around.

Better in the white cave

of the room

where sun’s rays never reach.

But even here it’s hot.

I touch my arm.

The skin feels cool.

Best to sit still

Sit on a table

and dangle my legs.

Sit on a table and dangle my legs.

All of a sudden

I’m nine again.

sitting in the loft,

dangling my legs.

Way down below some wisps of hay

float down, glistening in the sun.

Dangling my legs.

Sitting on a bridge,

the cool water

the cool flowing water

down below.

Throw down a pebble,

hear the splash.

Dangling my legs.

I close my eyes,

begin to rock.

I’m on a swing,

dangling my legs.

I move and feel the sweat break out.

My forehead, neck and hands

are sticky

like when I eat a peach.

best stay put.

I’m nine again.

Older people never sit

and swing their legs.

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