Poetry: “Hay Ride”

by Christopher Raley

Boys on hay bales for benches, gripping rails,
rocking with the wagon, squirming their rapture.
Antique tractor sputter eases the anxious quiet.

No prancing horse, no joking driver, no jolly group singing.
Parents rock with the wagon as if to sleep,
while boys spy out green tangled humps of orange.

Boys will run when the ride is over,
leaping down steps with arms raised high,
running strides that crunch the gravel.
They’ll fill cupped hands with cornmeal for the horse
(who’s hayride days are over) and tingle at his whiskered lips,
giggle at his rough tongue, listen when his half-fearing eyes speak.

Parents will linger on the rocks, kick them listlessly
near ignored play things, stare off at the barn when
conversations bow to the sovereignty of silence.
Silence over the farm, silence over the orchards.
Silence brought from the office in slit searching eyes
where silent is the manager and silent is the phone.

But boys will run and laugh all the more for lack of laughter.
Broken meal will spill over their fingers trailing to the aged beast,
for in the wagon their restless legs flex the impatience of love.

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