The Morning After the Haying
by Lesley Brower
Raw-armed after a day of hoisting bales
from the shorn field to the flatbed
trailer, having paced in the diesel-thick wake
of tractor exhaust, dust, grasshoppers
lifting in waves from timothy and alfalfa,
I rise and find that Japanese beetles
have made lace of my tomato vines,
broad leaves thinned overnight,
spilling a patchwork of light
through chewed holes and frayed stems.
I don’t know why I am in love with this land.
Kudzu cables shut the shed door
while speargrass and ironweed
choke out the half-runners.
Even the sandhill cranes won’t stay,
only skim through near year’s end.
Their ashed pinions ink the horizon.
And yes, I am tired too of evangelism,
single pump gas stations, Skoal rings,
of hominy, of crappie, of the seven different ways
to pronounce Louisville—
—so what is it that I feel when a peppered surge
of starlings swarm the neighboring field,
rising and holding for a moment
as the humid thrust of sunrise breaks the horizon
with its hot fingertip of devotion?
Lesley Brower is a native Kentuckian, raised in tobacco fields, dairy barns and Baptist churches. She currently lives, works and gardens in southern Illinois, where the locals spot her accent instantly. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and her most recent work is forthcoming from Big Muddy, The Aurorean and Adanna.