Photographing the Barns
The farm dogs greet and wriggle
like sausage in a pan. We’re friends.
I’ve come to photograph the barns
leaning into the view to the east,
scruff and jagged as my beard.
The barns offer fistfuls of splinters,
rusty implements, buckets, sleds,
a Volkswagen in faded red
with a “Stop the Arms Race” sticker.
Bags of fertilizer and cement
huddle out of reach of weather.
Spiders decorative as doorknobs
waddle across elaborate webs.
The silo exclaims itself
in unpainted planks worn black
by tireless seasons. I point
and shoot and expect the results
to justify ignoring the dogs,
who regret every lost petting,
the chickens wriggling in dust baths,
the honeybees knee-deep in pollen.
The barns pose as formally
as possible. The sunlight inching
across the chipped and faded paint
feels tonic enough to salvage
the saddest of my varied lives,
The dogs, Spud and Jupiter,
nuzzle up. I pack the camera
into my tote bag and drop
to my knees to look more acutely
into their brown ceramic eyes.
Dog-thoughts blossom. The barns
sway in the solar wind. Chickens
ripple like living footballs.
Apple trees flutter, dropping petals,
and the early snow peas ripen.
The entire farm is a muscle
working itself to flatter
the simple demands of the land,
and the dogs and I tremble
as something below responds.