The hay bales of my boyhood were rectangular bundles, small enough to load by hand on the back of a pickup. There was an intimacy in working with them–the rhythm of lifting and stacking, sweat stinging the eyes, the smell of cut grass, a persistent itch caused by the rough edges, those ice tinkling jugs of lemonade served at midday break.
Monet's paintings of haystacks are done in rich pastels--his focus the play of light at different times and seasons. While absent of people, one easily imagines farmhands scything the grass, forking it into yurt-like piles, cowlicks in their tousled hair, stopping occasionally for a drink of mead.
The bales I see on today's drive are rolls that resemble large golden cakes randomly strewn about the stubbled fields. There's the same fragrance, but the land has the surrealistic look of a production line, as if it's been plundered rather than caressed.
In one field, long lines of bales are wrapped in white plastic, like sausages for a race of giants. I imagine Grant Wood's American Gothic, but with a combine substituted for the pitchfork; the wife's countenance, dour, as she puts everything in its right place at the dinner table; the family sitting as if at attention; a glass of buttermilk beside each plate; the talk sanitized.
published in Simply Haiku