Late Summer Hay Fields


A second crop of hay lies cut   
and turned. Five gleaming crows   
search and peck between the rows.
They make a low, companionable squawk,   
and like midwives and undertakers   

possess a weird authority.

Cloud shadows rush over drying hay,   
fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine.   
The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod   
brighten the margins of the woods.
Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts;   
water, silver-still, and a vee of geese.
~Jane Kenyon from “Three Songs at the End of Summer”


By now the fields have survived
A first, and even second cutting
Mowed and tedded
Raked and baled, scalped clean then
Rained upon in spurts and spells.

The grass blades rise again, reluctant-Certain of the cuts to come;
No longer brazen, reaching to the sky
With the blinding bright enthusiasm of May and June endless days,
But shorter, gentle growth of late summer golden sunsets.The third cutting sparse and short as thinning hair
Tender baby soft forage, light in the hands and on the wagon
Precious cargo carried back to the barn;
Fragrant treasure for vesper manger meals
A special Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve gift.

Once again the fields are bare, aching for cover
Which comes as leaves rain and swirl in release,
Winds buffet, offering respite of deepening winter
Snowdrifts, blanketing in silent relief and rest
Until patiently stirred by melting soaking warmth
To rouse again, reaching toward the light.


3 thoughts on “Late Summer Hay Fields

  1. Emily: I daily enjoy your balm of images and poetry. And I adore your photo of the striped fields beneath the trees. That said, I thought you might enjoy a poem written from the high desert of Oregon south of Biggs Junction …


    South of the Columbia, white cumulus drift picturesque,
    flat-bottomed over a high desert turned green by spring rain.
    Desert and sky are two palms, pressed together, and as we drive

    between the hands, life compresses, expands—I don’t know which, or why—
    and don’t ask me how I know—but it does, a thing of chest and sky.
    The view is immense, and the towns, hardly towns at all, click by:

    Wasco, Moro, Grass Valley, and as we near Shaniko
    I trace the distances until they blur into abstraction,
    the mountains in long rows. Time spreads out, passes unnoticed

    through beige lands. Who sees? Who knows? Not the sage nor the juniper,
    nor the big Cascades looming west, nor the lazing cattle,
    so near sleep, on the undulating hills, north of the Ochocos.

    Sherman County (Oregon), 2014 / May


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