General Poems and Prose Poems

Barn Memory, Prose-Poem by Catherine Raine (2007)

I am a ruined barn, empty but smelling of ancient hay. I sit in a lost valley, no longer a shelter nor part of a living farm. I used to be warmer, to glow orange from lanterns on February mornings, to retain animal heat. Now my shadows fill in their outlines, brief flashes from the highway my only relief.

I am tired of being a relic, a rural ghost that attracts photographers from the city. Their insulting attention reminds me that I am just a skeleton of economies past, a symbol of romantic decay.

All my sounds are whispers and echoes now, where once I heard grunts, shouts, whinnies, cries of pain and hunger. It’s so quiet now. Ruin is quiet. My unsteady walls feel dry, brittle, so straw-like that one warm hand on my door would set me ablaze. I welcome this fire, this sweet extinction into ashes.

When it rains, I feel the blessed water soaking my beams, splashing through broken panes, swelling the hayloft floor so that I forget my ladder is broken and my stalls now shells that once held a family’s wealth and sustenance. I miss being whole. I miss being real. I miss the animals I used to protect.

(The audio recording below is from my reading of the poem at The Urban Gallery on Saturday October 25th, 2014)

2 replies on “Barn Memory, Prose-Poem by Catherine Raine (2007)”

This reminds me of my grandfather’s dairy barn in Wisconsin full on Jersey Cows waiting to be milked, of kittens waiting for a squirt from the teat, and young calves waiting to be bottle fed. My first experience watching a calf being born, my first taste of unpasteurized milk were in that barn. It smelled of dung and sweat, sweet alfalfa hay and sour milk. It is now a “relic” of the past but still a cherished memory.

I loved your beautifully poetic comment, Heather! Another friend of mine reminded me that even ruined barns are still homes to wildlife, such as owls and sparrows.

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