The disc’s burnished, gleaming blades shave

buzz-cut stalks to soft, speckled fur. Released, topsoil rallies,

bites the eyes of Grandpa, who’s only here to watch. 

A hawk dances above the teeth of dirt,

follows the tractor’s ruts, sees a something in

the knotted soil—plummets. 

As the distant tractor disappears Grandpa thinks he can still hear the

gear grind, hydraulic thrust, engine snarl,

but it’s only the gasping breath of his oxygen pump.

The tube tills furrows in his face. 

He checks the meter to see how long he’ll still have air.

He exhales, blows away the dirt that’s settled on his skin,

and waits for the tractor to reappear

in its endless spinning cycles. 

Majkin Holmquist is an Eighth grade English teacher from central Kansas. Much of her poetry reflects the culture and traditions of being the fifth generation of a family farm in the Midwest and the conditions of that landscape - both natural and emotional. Her work has been published in The Midwest Quarterly, A Prairie Journal, and LIT journal.

I wrote this poem after the death of my Grandfather. As long as I can remember, Grandpa was a vital and integral part of our family farm. When he developed lung cancer during the last year of his life, he was unable to work and simply had to watch. I hoped to catch the tension of his newly insignificant role on the farm, but his love of just being there as the work continued by his children and grandchildren.




Copyright 2009