Corn harvest is life in a John Deere tractor.
I begin each day with mocha, a 7-ll special.
Friday’s are fresh, warm cinnamon knots melting in your mouth,
God will bake them in my heaven.
I gulp the last of the coffee,
pulling into the field on the rutted, sandy road.
My mammoth green tractor sits, waiting patiently.
Checking oil, warming up engine,
like planes taxiing before take-off, it is our abiding routine;
washing windows, scrambling on vast, ridged, dusty black tires.
I tuck my daily rations in and turn on the radio-link with the combine.
Rolling through countless rows of corn,
we bounce alongside the gleaming silver combine
eating its’ way through the string of stalks.
Stripped cobs clonk our window,
fair-haired leaves released from their post dance around us,
and rabbits flee from our path.
Bushels of bright yellow kernels swivel up the combine auger,
filling the immense brown cart coupled with us.
Rotating, throttling, we surge forward,
conveying our golden cargo to the waiting semi.
Circling like stones in a tumbler, our day passes.
A bursting circle of corn is now a clear-cut forest,
a wide swath sheared to mid-calf stubble.
Darkness comes slowly,
the sun’s glare where nothing can block it.
Suddenly it is night.
Ghostly stalks shimmer in haze of dust and tractor lights,
we are swallowed in the dark,
the cart full of corn,
waiting for an empty truck.
Shutting down, I step into the chill night,
the tractor hood is warm from the long day’s run.
Comfortable there, absorbing the sky spilling over with stars,
the crackling sound of corn stalks,
and the humming buzz of the combine.
One old star blazing in a final journey
crosses from northeast to southwest,
fading only as it meets the horizon.
The earth seems to settle, cool, and take a breath.