The Parable of the Old Farmer & His Investment
He knew it was time to stay at the farm
when leaving it began to feel
like he was in alien in a rocket ship
instead of a man. From his view
of Route 3108 from the height
of his beat-down Chevy truck, once-
familiar places had this uncanny
newness to them.
“Ida,” he said to his wife,
“It feels like everything
decreased over the years, as farmers like him
sold off lots to folks to build on.
At the stockyards, auction day was like
them farmer’s markets they hold in cities’
downtowns. Now, it’s old men mostly,
the occasional Amish or Mennonite.
Young families that looked hungry,
He thought, people have to exist in the world
that surrounds them. He imagined
the bright honeysuckle
growing across the diamonds
of his year-bent wire fence. Imagine
the noise in the air, buzz saws trimming
siding for yet another house in renovation.
The smell of manure and sod, but so unlike
the whiff of cowshit from his old farm,
He thought, briefly. Imagine
the old city like a new living thing,
I love the contrasting word choice of “manure and sod” and “cowshit,” the “clogged arteries,” the parable form. One inconsistency might be the diction in “At the stockyards, auction day was like/ them farmer’s markets they hold in cities’/ downtowns.”
Thanks, Dr. Bedetti!
That stockyards stanza definitely needs some work later on–it sticks out to me for exactly the same reason now!
Shaun, this is so tender and sad. I used to sell country farms, and it was amazing how many older people had to sell because their kids did not want any part of farming. The small farms were disappearing, bought up by large corporations. The ending so poignant!
I remember overhearing one old guy tell another at the Tractor Supply in Richmond say that he didn’t own a farm, that he was taking good care of the land for the bank and they both kinda laughed
A Wendell Barryish poem, for sure. The other day, a farmer friend, who’s worked his adult life to build a productive farm, said, “This is not my farm, I’ve just been a tennant here for a short time.”
The landscape will outlast all of us, that’s for sure. Thanks, Jim!