John Grey: WHEN THE BARN FELL

The barn collapsed overnight.
I heard this sound
like a loud, soughing wind,

as ten years of sharp lean
became one rust-red flattened
and scattered stack of wood.

No animals inside thank God.
Just tarnished tools, a tractor
in as much need of repair

as my grandfather, the farmer.
The chicken coop was untouched by debris.
The three milking cows lay undisturbed in the shed.

He surveyed the damage
just as dawn was breaking.
I looked out from my bedroom window.

His anger, his sorrow –
neither appealed to me.
He had only a dead wife for support.

Used to be horses in those busted stalls.
But no more.
And there’d be his sons out riding them

but that was before education
and jobs and new lives in the city.
Now, it was just a place

for the education of young boys
on their school-break.
I gathered eggs.

I milked a cow.
I heard the fall.
I witnessed the fallen take stock.


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