Wrapping the Hay

By | 1 July 1997

The hay has just been stacked
in neat yellow bricks like some complex
puzzle that needs to be solved.

The shed’s full, it sits alone out there
in the stark yellow paddock – pathetic edifice
waiting to be torched or blown away.

But it’s got Escher written all over it
so there’s a sense of the infinite.
Though early summer storms

can be pretty savage around here.
Lightning-struck trees along the roadsides
are testament to this. Dad reckons

we’d better get straight to it. Covering
the stack with blue plastic sheeting
and staking it deep in the ground.

But school’s just finished and next
year it’ll be university in the city.
Art history. But none of this landscape

stuff – give me Jeff Koons fucking
Cicciolina, those fleshy cybernauts
without a field or ear of wheat

in sight. So it’s hard to get motivated
and Dad tells me I’m not too big
for a clip under the ear. I wonder

if he’s joking but get out there
with my brothers and get stuck into it.
I tell them about Far from

The Madding Crowd and work up a sweat
thinking about Cicciolina. And how stylish
it would be to have a film version

with Koons instead of Alan Bates.
But keeping Julie Christie as
Bathsheba Everdene. Gross!

The blue plastic flaps viciously
as the wind lifts. It cracks in our faces.
It catches my youngest brother

and slices his cheek. The blood
spray-paints the hay. He keeps
at it, swearing at the top of his voice.

Lightning highlights the installation
and for a dreadfull moment
we seem to be furiously adrift

in the vast ocean of the paddock.
Over the Hills where the storm’s dark eye
dilates. The rain drives hard

and I forget about everything. Finally
the hay is wrapped. Christo appears
in my head and I keep him there.

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