Filed under: Library | Tags: collaboration, cornfields, fiction, mike bunn, rain
It’s early. Sunlight. Heat trapped in the morning air. Endless rows of corn in a green wave. The shadow of poplar trees painting the stocks deep evergreen. The color of a woman’s glove, or a cheerleading skirt. Mosquitoes hover in the coolness of those shady patches.
The sky is filled with puffy clouds. Cumulus or cirrus. He can’t remember the difference. His mind was occupied with other things in school. Mostly with Kate. Watching her fill in scantrons or try out for cheerleading. All he needs to know about clouds is whether they’re going to open up. Whether they’re going to rain on all this damn corn.
At first this was a full farm. Sheep. Pigs. Crops. Then the subsidies arrived and he gambled, planting nothing but corn. Thirsty corn in green waves. He remembers the gray rain clouds he saw on his trip to visit Kate in Oregon. Even though they were divorced, she let him visit. The muddy fields. The valley so moist that hours after rain the rocks still gleamed. Her stringy bangs plastered to her forehead.
There is none of that here. No moisture. No wife. Just the trailer she left him in, its tired window unit puffing condensed air through their bedroom. Now he sleeps on the sofa. And the corn. She left him the corn.
It will grow. He knows that. The question is whether it will grow stunted and stillborn, or whether it will make it to your plate. The sweet, tender kernels you bite into after picking the kids up from daycare or getting an oil change. You pinch the fragrant ear of corn at each end and look past it, across the table to your spouse. You know there is so much to say. You have a history together, dating back to exams and tryouts and football games. A night at the prom. You imagined then what it would be like to grow together. You never once imagined it would feel like it does now: stunted and stillborn. So instead of saying anything you take another bite. Taste the corn. The sweet juice gleaming on your silent lips. The sweet juice he is in the fields waiting for, if only the clouds above will open up and rain.
Photos by me, taken this past Memorial Day weekend when I went to visit a friend in Indiana County. Text written recently by Mike Bunn.
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