Eyes focus on dust motes, yellow swirls
xxxxxhover, animal smells in the air.
My cousins soar between hay bales,
xxxxxexcitement crackles with fear.
Voices loud, mouths wide, leg scratches,
xxxxxstill we chase and scream.
Shoes full of hay stems never slow us
xxxxxdown as over the bales we fly.
Games done, we empty socks and pockets
xxxxxof dried grass, brush each other off.
A tidy for the youngest, a glance around the barn,
xxxxxready for departure.
Oblivious to the black-cloaked figures, scythes
xxxxxraised, who haunt our play.
Death lurks overhead; rusted bale claw held
xxxxxby a tattered rope.
Injury loiters by the open end of the barn,
xxxxxa two-floor drop into a manure pile.
Mortality dallies in the hay mows, a plunge
xxxxxto mangers or stone floors.
We are children, oblivious to grim possibilities
xxxxxskulking around the cows.
Back up the hill to our parents, enjoying
xxxxxgin and tonics in the late afternoon.
We leave the barn reapers to their dark pleasures
xxxxxas we escape the possibilities again.
Editor’s Note: This childhood narrative is sweet yet filled with dangerous possibilities. The innocent childhood games at twilight, away from parental oversight, are often tinged with danger. It is a miracle that most of us emerge without any harm. The vivid descriptions in this poem bring this barn scene to life.
Susan J. Wurtzburg is a retired academic and lives in Hawai‘i. She writes and runs her editing business (Sandy Dog Books LLC), in between water sports, hiking, and socializing online, while she waits for the pandemic to diminish. Susan’s poetry has appeared in the Hawaii Pacific Review, Poetry and Covid, Quince Magazine, and the Rat’s Ass Review.