Barn
THIRD CUTTING
by Melanie Dunbar

Four cranes rise at the back of the field,
fly as quarters of one bird,
as a flock of grackles
lands hidden in the grass.
Their wingbeats disturb the air near my neck.
This is my east thirty acres.

Fields border my fields,
in the distance the house I can see from my house is white.
Coming up from behind —
the unpainted back of the barn,

chicken coop and faded green shingles.
Near the road is the shagbark hickory
bare now except for the nuts.
Some guy cleaned out his car at the end of the drive.

The dust and hay sticks to the paste of sunblock
on my arms and face. I am encrusted in hay.
I pull bales off the baler,
stack them on the wagon.

The hay catscratches wherever it touches my skin.
It smells sweet,
meadows and clean sheets,
pillowcases left on the lilac to dry.

The tractor and wagon rock back and forth.
I sway with them,
a cowboy on a horse.
I climb to the top, spread-eagle,
a maharani riding an elephant.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live on a working farm. We grow our own corn and hay to feed our cattle. Baling hay is often hot, dusty, and physically exhausting — but there are moments of rest, when I dream. This poem was written after baling in late August. When the wagon was full, I climbed to the top and let my mind wander.

PHOTO: “Michigan Barn” by Melanie Dunbar.

dunbar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Dunbar is a Master Gardener who has suddenly taken her writing seriously. She lives in Southwest Michigan with her husband and youngest son and their rooster, Mr. Beautiful. Her poetry is forthcoming in Your Impossible Voice.