What One Gives After One Has Taken


Early morning turkey scouting

Barely more than a week ago it snowed, and not just a dusting but an honest-to-goodness four-inches, a dispiriting accumulation for the end of April. But then the sun came ’round and the temps were in the 60’s, and then a steady rain, and now the snow is almost gone, even the piles and banks formed by the snowplow are much diminished. Spring is here for sure. It feels hard-earned, and very welcome.

In the rain the other day I followed a school bus through the outskirts of a nearby town, idling at intermittent intervals as it stopped to disgorge students, most bound for the trailer homes that lined the roadway. Trucks with rusted rocker panels, snowmachines perched at the apex of those receding snowbanks. Dogs rushing to greet the children, almost all of whom were dressed inadequately for the weather. No rain jackets. Short sleeves. I turned the heat up in the car, as if it would somehow warm these intrepid kids. I watched through the edges of the windshield, the wipers swaying back-and-forth, back-and-forth.

Later that same day I did chores in our friend’s barn. So light now at chore time. The light filters through the gaps in the barn siding, the cobwebbed windows, past the used round bale wrappers plugging some (but not all) of the broken panes. I roll the bale down the aisle, a wet one, I lean into it, it’s heavy but getting lighter by the minute as I distribute the hay to the long line of hungry cows, straining at their chains for evening ration. One is bleeding mysteriously from the nose, but seems otherwise fine. Blood has pooled on the floor. I cover it with hay. The gutter cleaner clacks and clanks, moving shit around the perimeter of the barn and then up and out the conveyor to drop into the spreader parked beneath. To be spread tomorrow. Shit, that forever link between beast and land. It’s part of the unspoken deal one makes. It’s what one gives after one has taken.

My students bring Kendrick Lamar lyrics to class. They read them like poems, then we listen to the songs, turned low so not to disturb the class in room above us, but still the bass is heavy and we bob to the beat. Outside the gray sky looks to be easing, but so little I could be wrong.

The song ends, we talk awhile, then Dante reads his essay on communism. It’s really quite good.

Music: A nice one from Tyler. 


5 thoughts on “What One Gives After One Has Taken”

  1. This spring feels hard-earned for us, too, and we haven’t worked on a farm all winter. I feel so inadequate leaving a comment, I’m going to tape this on my wall: It’s what one gives after one has taken. Beautiful.

  2. Our community’s recycle station has a special trailer; “For Giving And For Taking.” The smiles that emerge from that trailer with some new treasure in tow are rivaled only by the smiles that enter the trailer with “trash” to be given.

  3. “Shit, that forever link between beast and land. It’s part of the unspoken deal one makes. It’s what one gives after one has taken.”
    *Love* this, posted it with credit.

    Concerned about the cows nose bleeding enough to pool on the floor.

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