The barn sits alone, stalks of wheat caressing its tired boards. It caves in on itself as if pulled by a force at the center of its deserted body. Its broken back leaves a jagged silhouette against the blue sky. Clouds skim the highest peak, the last upward thrust. The roof, falling inward in slow motion, will one day pull that remaining bastion down with it. The front doors of the barn splay out at odd angles, and light streams into the darkness beyond, finding its way through missing slats. Crickets interrupt the still heat of the fields, along with the whisper of wind playing in the wheat. The sound of a crop duster engine reverberates over the hills and I strain to see the source of the low hum. I see nothing among the crowd of clouds that travel towards the south, navigating the buck and roll of the horizon. Ghost plane. Then all is quiet, only the sounds of crickets, wind, and fertile growth meeting slow decay. The barn sits, majestic in its dereliction, waiting for the earth to claim its peeling wood and the fading smell of manure and old leather. Its destruction is magnificent, reigning over the life of the fields.
Occasionally people come to pay it homage – children play among fallen rafters, photographers make love to it through camera lenses, travelers stop and contemplate its ruin. I too am an unexpected pilgrim to this place. I stare at the barn in silence, sweating in the heat. As I write, I struggle to capture its imperfect perfection, the poetry of death sitting enveloped by life. I am at a loss for words. As the afternoon moves towards night, I can only sit and sweat and watch the shadow of the clouds trip over the tips of stalks, watch two hawks flutter over the fields looking for prey, watch the contours of the land deepen with the changing light. The wind picks up a notch, a dust devil swirls up the road and dissipates just as suddenly over the fields. There is nothing that needs to be said. The pair of hawks fly low over the fields, one clutching the bloody success of its hunt. Their shrill piping announce their victory as they drop in and land. And all the while the barn sits, quietly going about its slow death.