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Cleaning the Barn

Text of Poem

We put it off, not having to prove
we were Hercules, but the day came
(as it always does with work not done)
when we took our forks, spit on our hands,
hung our coats on a nail and started.
All winter the calves tramped straw bedding
to hard-packed manure with a yellow smell,
tied in with straw and two feet thick,
every forkful strained our shoulders,
with every forkful we grew thick grass
on meadows where we spread this waste
from the farm’s gut, remains of corn and hay
back to the fields again. It was a place
of odors, incense to bless the land,
we tugged, pulled, swore, joked,
strained with sweat and our slippery loads,
dregs of harvest for another harvest.
A spring day on the wheel of seasons,
when the pen was clean we smelled to high heaven,
lame in our muscles, weary beyond rest,
we picked up our coats, banged the forks
into their racks, made our bed on a
bale of hay, heard for applause
a banging barn door.

First Line
We put it off, not having to prove
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Small Farm (Oct. 1976-March 1977) 12.
Complete Poems
Hearst Collections
Word Count
Poetic Form
Bibliographic Notes

Publishing Error: pages 19-20 and 41-42 and incorrectly printed twice, back to back, between pages 30-31

Twitter Quote
It was a place / of odors, incense to bless the land,