Barbed wire snarls in a heap
behind the barn. Its doors sag
on hinges barely held together
by rust and regret.
You can’t even smell horses anymore.
Out in the fields, fence posts
that no longer have any purpose
lean toward each other.
A mile off across the fields,
two abandoned grain silos like sentries
stand guard over everything obsolete—
even my own past,
which no longer has a market value.
Nevertheless, I do recall the silo
on grandfather’s farm in Kansas,
already unused a lifetime ago.
I’d look into it, amazed
by how much emptiness it could contain,
and by the spindly tree growing inside,
all alone, determined
not just to endure,
but to reach the sunlight a hundred feet up
and feel the wind.
The diesel well pump whines
through clenched teeth, spoiling
early morning peace and quiet.
But that’s what it takes
to put water on the alfalfa.
Insects have been forced into the open,
driving blackbirds into a frenzy.
The flock swirls and chatters
around a few motionless egrets
that bring an inner calm with them—
philosophical about abundance,
having lived through hard times.
And hungry or not,
they have such good manners that none
wants to be the first to eat.
Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com