Sarah Miller The 2River View, 8.2 (Winter 2004)
Wisconsin Haying

The birdfeeders in the yard hung empty.
This was the first year my grandfather sat
in a chair in his den instead of on a tractor seat
during haying. The first year I learned to stand
on a bouncing wagon bed, to lean over the gap
between baler and wagon, to sling the bales.
I stood with my uncles in the dark maw,
watching the slow creep of the sagging elevator,
learned to stack, cross stack, tight pack
the hay. I crawled over and between my cousins
salting until my face and arms turned green.
We sweated and joked each head shake
helped salt the bales; we raced the baling crews,
unloading faster than they could bring new wagons.
I drove pickup, shuttling full and empty beds.
I carried water. Leather gloves turned wet
in my hands and I reached forward again,
using my weight to pull and toss another bale.
That night, one of the walls of hay collapsed,
falling against the wooden roof beams.
In the morning, my uncles began shoring
and restacking while the wagons for the second field
stood idle. My cousins played cards.
I heard birds calling and finally wandered
down the road to my grandfather's house.
He would be watching the empty road;
someone should tell him, I thought.
Someone needs to let him know.