This week the ripening field of grain has begun its seasonal change of color from green to gold to rust that fascinates me every year and transports me in memory to Oklahoma fields where my uncle raised wheat. One memory that stands out is of my siblings, cousins, and I riding the truck that carried the harvested wheat to the elevator in town. I don't often do this (share my poetry except with writing groups), but I decided instead of describing the fields again I'd just share the words I wrote a few years ago.
Fields, at 60
The sorghum fields across the road are changing
again, ripening as days count down to summer.
It’s that one day in early June when the fields
are mixed in equal parts of green and gold
and rust, when the colors of grain for a single moment
are in perfect balance, blending in stippled swirls
that shift and eddy with the wind. My eyes strain
to catch the colors, to fix them as they surge and billow
in that ocean of grain. I see the field, and feel it too:
ingrained in me, gold deepening to amber,
rust for harvest, and again, dry brown stalks.
I feel it still, as I did then, sun-warmed grains
that cradled us as we rode the wheat truck
from another field that other summer afternoon:
Golden rays stretch out from the western sky ahead,
slanting across laughing cousins balanced
atop the cut grain piled onto the truck. Ripe
kernels slide over our bare feet and drop
from our fingers as we raise our palms to the sun.
At the end of the gravel road the elevator looms
still, white, blocking the sun. In the truck's bed,
we lean back, arms and legs spread wide,
as though to make snow angels—
but the grains fill in too quickly and our impressions
collapse as the truck lumbers into the elevator.
“Hold on!” grownups in the cab cry
as we grasp the front of the bed.
Trying to balance, we hold on
as the truck box rises and the grain,
like so many grains of sand that mark the hours,
slips away under our feet. When the truck levels,
we let go our grasp, fingers cramped with the holding,
and collapse exhausted to the emptied bed as the truck
bumps out of the elevator, and the golden grains
disappear beneath the grate.