Hour 5: The Hayloft

The Hayloft

We entered the barn
though grandpa’s workroom
smelling strongly of engine oil
Then past the old milking stanchions
empty from before I could remember
Finally, ultimately, up the ladder
Made of wide boards and
attached to the end of a feedbox
Difficult to maneuver and scary
Sometimes I couldn’t make it
Especially the awkward step at the top
a right angle from ladder to loft

Once there
the wide expanse of the loft was freeing
the roof arching high above our heads
with only small amounts of hay
and a lingering smell of dust
impeding our play
When my mother was young
she and her brothers and sisters
played basketball in the echoing space
But now the floor
was a minefield of warped boards,
missing planks, and holes
to watch for and carefully ease around
a fear of heights growing in me

At the end of the hayloft
the space was open
to trucks and equipment stored below
Above hung a rope
with one large knot
If you weren’t a scaredy-cat
you grabbed the rope
and swung out over the open space
trusting the brothers and cousins
to catch you upon your return
I did this
but not often
I preferred to watch
the braver kids
who whooped and yelled
and swung with abandoned

The barn still stands
but the grandparents are gone
And who knows how many
holes have widened
in the wide plank floor
Or if the rope
still dangles over
a vast empty space

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