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Haying Where Wild Ferns Grow

by NALG Lush green bends to the weight of the ancient tractor, built somewhere in a vast western heartland I have never seen, in the middle of the last century, before I was born. The steady chug of the ungainly beast lulls, as endlessly as its circular path. The slightest interruption in that pulse seems abrupt.

The farmer stoops over the steaming engine; he knew this machine when it was new. An adjustment, made with the blunt end of an equally ancient spanner seems too crude, but the farmer steps away, nodding. I ease out the clutch, lurch forward, and quickly look back to be sure the bent and twisted rake is crawling obediently along. The hay lines double up neatly. The farmer does not stand and watch my progress, or wait to be sure of his repair. He is, with effort, climbing slowly up the tractor that pulls the baler.

The field ends here in this orchard. Yesterday, the mower left twisted pretzels of cutting, & in my turn I twist around trees and the slow chug seems faster as I in and out between broad trunks of ancient apple trees. I leave a maze line that he will swear at, as he tries to bring the baler through. I smile to myself - the orchard marks a change in our day, becomes, somehow, an odd game we play with one another. A game we play in silence, at distance, and never, when we are grounded and more of human and less of machine, admitted to.

I chug away, with the long open sea of swaying grass gone on the one side, and open waves, yet to cut, on the other. This is the safety game; to mow, and tet, rake and baleand leave other fields yet uncut. If the skies darken we will, we hope, get in what we have cut. A conspiracy of skies and grass is my supervisor.

The distant waves of grass taunt me, but I speed passed and reach the next field, passed the still tetter, and set down again the great heavy rake. Begin anew the circuits of chugging in this sea of green. It is boring they tell me, repetitious. It does not pay well.

I think back to days ensconced in a cubicle, of answering questions, of speaking in meetings the words that were the same words as yesterday. Whitecapped waves of repetitions sailed in unheralded, flogged my imaginings, leaving consciousness adrift. I meandered rudderless through the days, dipped and clipped, and turned about in a sea scarcely seen. Meaning was lost, somewhere, in the troughs.

Whole days pass when this man and I scarcely speak, and my voice creaks, all unfamiliar and unsure, when I do. But he knows by a look that my engine has lost purr, or that the machine I tow has failed. If I stumble into the bog where the wild fern grows, he revs his engine and tows me out, shaking his head but with a broad smile. Will she ever learn? He must wonder.

In this fresh field a turkey staggers away, all ungainly toward the forest, and I pause to watch. The drama of a loping coyote, a dark arrow of shadow through the grass, can fill my mind for the afternoon.. I have left all connections, yet connected. I step along as the great work beasts of yore, as steady and contented; their purpose clear and traces taut, they cast their unquestioning thoughts to the oats well-earned at end of day.


Almost South Pacific

By S.P.K.L

I知 getting ready to move

I知 getting out of this place

Each day I end up

With frozen fingers and face.

I知 going to travel to where it is warm

Maybe Tahiti

Or even to Guam.

I now hear soft music

And natives are singing

They池e doing a dance

With grass skirts a-swinging.

The music is soothing

So soft and so new

I値l join with the rest

I can swing my hips, too.

I知 enjoying life now

Bare feet in the sand

This must be heaven

This Beautiful land.

And then I just heard it

A strange little 田lick

The tape -- - it is over, I値l change it real quick.

art on Sleighs page 3

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