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  • I had never cut hay before. I lived in a small ranch house that abutted an abandoned insane asylum in an affluent town in Connecticut. I mowed the lawn, just like ever one else on the street. I carved diagonal lines into the front yard to make it appear larger. I drank a cold beer while doing so. Now I live half way up a mountain in God's country. The grass grows tall and thick along the dirt road. In the summer the trucks and tractors kick up dust so thick that it coats the furniture inside the 300 year old farmhouse in which I have taken up residence. The only thing that occupies more space than the fields up here is the sky, the sky that is tumultuous on the most pleasant of summer days and burns like a newborn galaxy on stagnant summer evenings.

    They hay the fields around here. What was once done with them, I don't know, but haying seems to be the way the modern, drunk, out-of-work farmer makes himself feel as though he is worth something to his ancestors up here. The man who owns this property is one of these farmers. He has barns full of farm equipment dating back 70 years. He spends his winters drinking and maintaining it, his summers drinking and forcing it to serve his purpose. I go with him now and then, with my dog, and do what I can to help. Not because I want to be a farmer, but because there is something spiritual about it, something that makes me let go of the tedious days spent in an uncomfortable chair at a desk.

    We pulled the mower behind the tractor, up the lane and through the young forest to the uppermost field. We engaged the blades and began cutting. Square the corners first. He knew every hidden trench and boulder, calling out to me in whiskey-soaked breath to hold on when erratic maneuvers were necessary. Around and around we went, soaking up the sun, breathing the long grasses, going deaf to the sounds of engines and blades. As we approached the center of the field a high-pitched squeal, a scream, a tea kettle shrieked from behind and we cut the motors. We looked at each other, blue eyes smeared in the setting sun. We stared at the sky. At the trees along the field. And then we smelled it. Cooked meat.

    In the blades we found the fawn. Awakened from a lazy dream in a hazy meadow by blades of death. It twitched a little. We caught perhaps the last conscious gaze from her dark, pooling eyes. There was no fear, no surprise, no pain in the stare. She was one who truly woke up dead. We watched silently as the pulse ceased and the flow of blood dried up like a mountain spring during a hot July. To our right, in the brief thicket at the edge of the wood, we saw her mother. She had probably watched our red machine go around and around 20 times, knowing all the while where her fawn lay, knowing all the while that she could risk her own life to wake her, or stand and watch silently and hope for the best. We pulled the tattered young body from the blades and carried her towards the forest. Her mother watched. We lay her in a ditch knowing the coyotes would come that night. That she would be used. That all things change but never fail.

    We finished the field with that doe, that mother watching the whole time. We pulled the machines into the shaded lane and cut the engines to have a cold beer and a cigarette. "Up here, we are part of nature," he said. "She knows."
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