Historic barn, Monroe County, Alabama: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, May 2010 (George F. Landegger Collection, Library of Congress)
The busy squirrel's earnings securely
or not so securely tucked away, the granary
full, the harvest in the barn:
so time remits all labours then; or was it
death, and were the labours
sorrows? It's not easy keeping this straight.
Still, time remits all difficulty, or was that death,
again? And if so, when? And if not now, why not?
Red Squirrel: photo by Reid2008, 2010
These are the questions the weary
farmer, the overtaxed squirrel ask
of fate. And what's fate saying?
If fate's saying anything, neither
farmer nor squirrel can make it out.
Barn, Upper Michigan: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, April 2007 (Library of Congress)
And what's religion saying? And science,
what about science, once religion
is dead? Is science
saying, after that long quarrel with one's gods,
when you get the test results
okay? And then we'll talk
if we can recall all the words there were to say
the things one meant to say
before there ceased to be a reason to be saying
any of them. So now there are all these
messages, many indecipherable.
The messages are stored up in the barn.
Barn, Seven Mile House, near Reisertown, Baltimore County, Maryland: photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1937 (Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress)
No one's been in there for years.
And furthermore squirrels couldn't care less
or religion, tests
or gods. When you can't find your nuts
or the bank's foreclosing
it almost gets so nothing else seems to matter.
Barn, Route 66 near Staunton, Illinois: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, December 2004 (Library of Congress)