THE UNFINISHED POEM
It is a dark and dismal morning,
With capricious breezes
Tousling worried willow branches.
Overhead, furtive demon-clouds dart about
On unknown errands of mischief.
I walk beneath this somber, gray sky
Along an overgrown path that connects,
Like a weedy serpent, the dilapidated, old house
To the bone-weary barn that leans precariously away
From the relentless pressure
Of winds that have blown against its planks
For a hundred years.
Flecks of cold, summer rain peck insistently at my face;
sodden horseweeds slap impertinently,
seeking to intrude upon my melancholy reverie.
But I feel no rain as behind my eyes
I walk down this wide path of long years ago
That leads me from the clean, freshly-painted white house
To the proudly erect barn.
Barn swallows dart in and out of the barn door
In a never-ending quest to appease the appetite
Of chirping youngsters snug in half-bowl mud houses
That cling firmly to the ceiling joists,
Roofed by the dusty hay mow floor.
Fat cattle graze in apathetic contentment
In a lush, green pasture
Carefully guarded by an arrogant red rooster
He stretches his ruffed neck imperiously.
His assertive crow tells the world
This is MY corner post.
In the field behind the yard.
A chugging tractor flees
The rising cloud of corn-field dust
A tall, stern man sits on the metal seat,
His iron metal gray hair mostly hidden
By the straw hat that protects his face
From the relentless rays
Of an unusually hot October sun.
It is harvest time again.
A time when there will be no rest
Until the grain is safely in the crib.
A time when day begins at the edge of night
And continues until pitch darkness
Drives him from the field
Into the lantern-lighted interior of the Milking Barn.
An hour later, he sits at table
The bent, gray-haired lady serves quietly
Knowing his mind is on the unfinished harvest.
Just before this day merges into the next one
They slip off to bed and for four hours
There is blessed rest.
And then the Rooster crows …
Startled, I rouse from my reverie.
A loose board beats a staccato rhythm
Against the rain spattered, leaning barn side.
The wind moans through the cracks;
The whispered voices of those who walked this path
So many years ago …