The challenge at Real Toads today is to write a poem based on the modern mechanical harvest.  This is just right up my alley because my cornfield was just harvested last week.

Harvest used to be her favorite time.

Dry cornstalks rustling in the wind,

The promise of bills being payed.

When it was over for the year

and the last of the crops were sold,

it was a time to slow down and enjoy

the short days and long nights

at home with her husband.

Now as her son worked to

ready the combine the fear returned.

The memory of lights sitting

still for too long and

no answer on the cell phone,

the long drive in the pickup

to find the combine running

and seeing him bloody and

mangled by the massive machine.

Now harvest meant death and fear,

yet this was her way of life,

and she couldn’t leave the farm.

She kissed her boy and told

him to be safe and watched

him walk to the barn

to begin this year’s harvest.

17 thoughts on “Harvest

  1. Oh my… Makes me long for the good ol’ Percheron and Belgium horses… Very emotionally disturbing, this poem as I know it is a reality for someone each fall harvest.

  2. “The memory of lights sitting still for too long” was chilling. If the machine isn’t moving, there’s sure to be something wrong.
    An excellent write, Teresa.

  3. Yikes. Scary story told in such a great simple way. So many farm accidents. My mom grew up on a farm – they had them even with simpler machinery. People on the outside don’t always realize the difficulties. k.

  4. To be honest, farm machines creep me out because I have long suspected they want my limbs. When I was a child, I saw a story on the evening news about a a guy in North dakota whose combine ripped off both his arms, he staggered to his mom’s house and laid in her bath tub until the helicopter ambulance arrived (he didn’t want to stain his mom’s carpet). Your poem took an original twist on the harvest, well done and the pacing was fantastic. Thanks for posting and viva la

  5. The central conceit of the piece is wonderful, really top-shelf stuff, pondering the idea of “harvest” on several levels. Rather than tell the story in straight-ahead sequential order, I might have worked in exchanges between mother and son and/or internal dialogue–I think that give some more depth to the characters, and added some layering to make the piece even more powerful and poignant. Still, it’s a brilliant concept, and well-executed to boot.

  6. A haunting tale, Teresa–and sadly, one that has probably happened somewhere. People who live close to the land take the land’s risks.

    • I’m sure it’s happened frequently. At least once a year it seems like we hear about someone being killed. They don’t bother to report all the fingers and hands that have been lost.

  7. O Powerful, there are tears in my eyes. For others it might be one of them getting on the bicycle or driving the car–but alone out there field or woods with a huge cutting machine . . .

  8. You have written about the other side of harvesting – the danger – so well. One can imagine her fear as she watches her son follow in the footsteps of his father, through stark necessity. So well written. Your photo is BEAUTIFUL.

  9. That is one of fears–not with harvest machinery, but with the big tractor my husband uses to work in the woods. I always beg him not to go into the woods with it unless I am home. I don’t want to come home to a mangled mess someday 😦

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