by Nick Norwood


Their two-ton Jimmy staggers now,

rolls and wobbles on creaky springs,

creeping over berms on a rutted

two-track with a house of


hay on its back, is inched back

through a doorway just big enough

to let her in, driver climbing out

and crawling under her flatbed


to enter the hell that is this barn,

a hundred-and-twenty-degree

corrugated-tin oven, air

a vortex of flying debris—


dust, grass, weed, vaporized wood

and dung. To live you must learn

to pivot the weight, to be one

with it: the downswing a free-


fall followed in rhythm by a push

on the upthrust. And thus

it’s a thing that can be done,

ninety-pound bales heaved,


chucked into mow, stacked

side-down so as not to burn

(hauler’s sacred lore), the last

pair in a row “married” in an al-


most too-tight hole. Daylight

growing incrementally around

the load’s unstacked edges.

Then, puffs of fresh air—thank


you lord—ice-water slugs,

a dip/smoke/chaw, the swipe

of a bandana across the face.

And then, son, back to square one.