(A 45 year-old memory)
The boy creaked open a half-hinged door.
The barn exhaled its cow’s lung full of dank hay breath –
sweet feed and corn cobs, fur dust and feathers.
“What sleeps slack-jawed under the floor,”
he pondered, always fearing falling through,
“with eyelids cracked crustily for manna from above?”
Stopping to read Braille messages in saddle leather scrolls,
he looked to the loft, just glimpsing the striped coon tail of a spy.
He pecked a stale kernel or two off a cob left behind,
crunching their consistency of candle wax and peanut brittle.
A dark corner called, so he took a notion to hide a while in the hay
and watch the shifting edges of morning light sweep their way
across knotted planks to the hidden earth beneath.
Knee deep in a farm field daydream, he heard a horse bray,
and thought of wanting to feel its rubbery lips and warm breath
searching and sniffing for sweet feed in the manger of his hands.