Hayloft, July 1983

Hayloft, July 1983

We have come down Highland Road in Luther’s Chevy
peering over and under
the crack across the windshield
shifting a rag rug over cracked vinyl
wisps of timothy and alfalfa blowing up
and out the open window

Today we put up hay
the sun high and hot
burning my father’s face
already red from yelling at me and my mother

Hurry up we haven’t got all goddamned day

Sent to get water
in a five-gallon cooler levered into
my Radio Flyer
The broken handle
biting my palm
The weight pushing downhill to clip my heels

I struggle not to cry
while my father’s red face inches from mine
demands to know

Would I like something to cry about?

Luther and his boys keep working
Shirts soaked and faces closed

Backs bent and straightened to pitch bales
through the narrow loft door
Sometimes they miss and broken bodies
litter the ground near the truck
though Luther
never yells

I help my mother
hook pull drag stack

Fifty pounds at a time
until the last flatbed trailer is done
and my father has gone
following Luther back to Richfield

Dust shifting through sunlit slats
as I broom the wood smooth
and my pony lips
new hay fallen
like snow from above

Original draft 1997 School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA Poetry Workshop with Maureen Seaton. Second draft submitted July 2010 for never-published anthology of Ohio poetry.

Third draft today, Sunday, 5 April 2015.

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