For your consideration

Excerpt from ‘Lamentations of a Farmer’ from the collection Asunder, baby:

When the derecho winds arrived Friday, they lifted the split-rail fences, tore up most of the barn roof, uprooted the vegetable garden, then set everything down, hard, probably, in the parking lot of the shuttered A&P in Mechanicsburg. When he first heard the sound, he thought the P&E Freight was running ten minutes early, its whistle off-key by about two octaves. Then he remembered he hadn’t heard that whistle in nearly sixty years, and the bones of that old depot were half a country away.

Saturday morning, he carried his shovel to the fence line, now reduced to a perforated line of dirt clumps and splintered cedar, and he rubbed the tired out of his eyes. Strands of barbed wire spread across the pasture, patches of galvanized weeds.

As through a wide breach they come, in the midst of the ruin they roll themselves in,” he said. “Job, you were one sorry son of a bitch if you couldn’t figure that out.” Before he started, he checked his pockets. “Fool,” he said. “What is it you expect to accomplish with only a shovel?” Nonetheless, he set the blade into the dirt, and leaned into it with his boot.

From a mean distance, he noted the tricks of the midmorning sunshine, how it spilled through a colander of apple tree branches and furnished a fine frippery of light, then raised its heels along the curves of the pea-gravel garden borders and set itself to dance. Even so, the dark western horizon was starting to crawl back.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated,” he whispered.

His cows, those that remained in the field, gawped at him from a tousled ridge of hay. His favorite (if a beast could be called a favorite, though she wore a particular sorrowful glint in her eyes that always drew his attention), named Marmalade for the spoon-shaped patches on her neck, stepped towards him, tentative, and she brought her melancholy with her.

“To the end, eh, Marmy?” he said.

First published by and many, many thanks to DarkWinter Literary Magazine and its founder and editor Suzanne Craig-Whytock (www.darkwinterlit.com)

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