Autobiographical: This poem gives the feel and color of what it was like to mow native prairie grass for winter livestock hay in the 1950's and 1960's in the Central United States. I miss my dog.
This is Jerry Engler's award winning poem, copyright 1990:
FIRST DAY MOWING
By the second round you have the feel
of more than an ocean of prairie.
Nine feet of hand-sharpened sickle stays hungry for the taste of wounded bluestem
while you stay high in the tractor saddle breathing easy into the south wind under a fiery sun.
It's when you turn into the north that the
tractor speed matches the soft breeze,
and the sweet pungent smells steep your brain,
or burn the nose if the sickle clacks in struggle against a renegade patch of wiregrass with ragweed that's on the shallow ground.
On the even soil the grasses are uniform,
the mower's a well-fed shark
slicing happily through little blue, big blue and gramma,
slowing for a bigger bite on the switch,
or gulping in struggle on slough grass in the draws.
The dog grins up at you from his place on the left or behind;
he knows the sickle's big bite
that cottontails flee. He's there
for mercy if a bunny's bloodied,
a dog's dining day out.
By the time you're four hours into your voyage when
the rake man's there to check the drying
from your beginning,
you've found your sea legs, wobbling
over to him from the tractor, and your
eyes are reading the sickle's challenges in
rippling waves of green.
Jerry W. Engler
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|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|This reminds me of my childhood days in northern Alberta, Jerry. I drove the tractor and my brother handled the "binder" - it cut the hay (alfalfa or whatever) and bound it into sheaves. Great poem. Much enjoyed. Love and peace to you,
|Reviewed by Theresa Koch
|I loved this piece~`*|
|Reviewed by Richard Orey
|WOW! The imagery is mind-blowing.
Now, I know a little something about shucking corn from the cropland of Eastern Nebraska in the late 1940's but nothing about mowing native prairie grass. Until now! These verses give me the feel of being there, watching and smelling everything change minute-by-minute as I make my way across the hot prairie, occasionally spotting a cottontail dart for safety while I'm sweatin' 'til I'm soaked.
This is a great write from a man who's been there.
|Reviewed by Jim Moore (Reader)
|This is wonderful, Jerry. A well-written, well thought out piece of work. I hope more readers take the time to stop by and read this one. Look forward to more of your poetry.
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|Sounds like quite a voyage, Jerry, and I enjoyed this very much.|