THRESHING TIME

THRESHING TIME

I remember at Christmas getting a great threshing machine
a block of wood with wooden spools nailed to the side
but I loved it as I loved the threshing

All through the long summer days I would walk
the fields with my dog
At night my mother rubbed strong liniment on four year old
legs: growing pains she said, although one always hurt
more and didn’t seem to grow any faster

And the grain grew too, and passed me, and was higher
than I was. And then the harvest and the wonder of it falling
to the binder and the magic of the machine as it tied the
sheaves and ke-chunked them into the carrier

Then the stoking – little teepees covering the prairie again
and the golden warmth of everything

And the threshing machine; they wouldn’t let me too close;
it might eat me like it ate those sheaves and like the men
in the crew could eat, and they could eat
even when it rained

While I sat for hours nose to wet window
watching the great gray dinosaur
deep in the timeless mists

And hot clear windless days when everything sang and
the belt slapped and the machine came to life again
and wagons were on both sides
and the big horses were standing strong and ready
and switching flies with dignity

The sun caught the arch or the long plume of straw and
the chaff lifting and the old hands fed the machine in a
sort of easy sweat-oiled rhyme (rhythm?) and the new stood
on the sheaves they tried to lift each time

And the old hands laughed, and the new hands laughed
and they were men together