Hay Maker

by Sandy Hiortdahl


By mechanics, lanes of yellow vanish

into the bailer’s munching mouth,

while out the other end, like some egg

laid by the machine, out patters a bale

squared tight into a bunch, tied with string,

plopped atop the stubble, one egg, two egg, three.


Listing to one side, the hay wagon

trundles behind the old Ford pick-up,

trailed by farmhands in either lane whose pace

matches the rhythm of the bailer

marching ahead of them in the hot field.


Each egg is plucked up, swung into the wagon,

in staccato rhythm to the bailer, to the diesel,

as the driver of the pick-up pops another bubble,

ten years old, she is, and counting.


Oklahoma City shimmers on the horizon

as they make the turn, gleaming steel

above lanes of yellow, with a thunderhead

rising purple just behind it: hours from now

rain will splatter and then torrent, lightning

pounding like fists onto fields plucked clean.

Originally published in This Land: Fall 2016