Just-cut hay will arrive at dusk.
I look at the uneven pile
of sun-bleached brown bales
left over from past years.
Each has its own character:
     leafy legume,
     wispy thin grass,
     coarse with tough yellow stems.
Tan outsides hide muted green within.
The bottom layer smells faintly of mold
where it meets concrete.

I move 50-pound bundles by their red or tan twine,
willy-nilly at first, fumbling
for a plan. I find
mounds of loose hay,
nests my dogs built in winter
to sleep away gray daylight hours.
There is part of an old glove,
just the red lining, that disappeared
one cold day Minnie was bored.

I come back about sunset.
Fifty feet away I can smell
the thick scent of alfalfa and timothy
that was still connected to the earth
four days ago. I inhale the fragrance
that will fade along with the grass-green façade,
like a collection of memories
covered by the dust of time,
till you dig deep into the stack.

["Taking Stock" – Honorable Mention, 2006 James H. Nash Poetry Contest, St. Louis Poetry Center]

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