The Harvest Moon

Smoke plumes out fluffy from the Medieval smokestacks, and moisture clings to limestone brick.  The roseleaves catch the rain, dancing, and the hills look unfazed.  Distant, I can hear the donkeys call to me: they want their food, and I shall give it to them!  The owner, Mr. Moritz, sits near the archway with a pipe in his hand, painting with watercolors; the men of the farm have just returned from removing the rocks from the campo di grano, which has recently been seeded with alfalfa, and from this job, my hands are cut, eternally stained black from the earth.  I am a character from an Angsty Italian Steinbeck novel! 

Now that all of the other volunteers have left, I am the only one, and have been for nearly a week; I live ironically alone in the preschool, which has been abandoned for the summer.  I have taken on two new jobs, having left the kitchen: in the mornings, I work in the large vegetable garden, where I harvest zucchini, kale, tomato, and such or so forth.  Today while cutting some red lettuce, I cut also my right thumb; my iPod, at the time, was playing a song by Antony & the Johnstons, and this is unnecessary information apart from implying that every time I listen to Antony & the Johnstons, I cut my right thumb while harvesting red lettuce on a farm-villa in Tuscany.

In the afternoons and evenings I go on a little Orwellian tour, and that allusion is nonsense.  I load up two trashbins full of food scraps on a dolly, drag ’em to the compost bin, covering them up with shit, then go down to the mill and make pig food from crushed black beans and grains; I truck that down past the woods and the cemetery, am greeted by the aforementioned donkeys, shovel them a few forks of straw, filling their water basin, before soaking the pig food, then shoving it in their faces.  There are four pigs: Penelope is a Vietnamese pot-belly, and he has too much fat on her; her stomach scrapes the ground as she walks, and her eyes are squinty from all the excess around her face.  She is so ugly that she becomes cute, and I always contemplate if I could eat her, which I think I could.  There are the other three, then, who are at least twice her size and must be kept in another cage, as they always fight.  One, who is part wild boar, is as long as a Fiat Cinquecento, and smells of Hades.  He/she always fights the others to be the first to get to the food, so much to where it tries to catch all the food as it falls from my bucket.  I, for being so rude, often dump all the food on its face and watch the others try to eat it off of him/her.  The noises they made are unholy and I obviously understand why being called a “pig” means what it does.  The donkeys, meanwhile, are special, with a glimmer of understanding in their eye, a glimmer of warmth, and whenever they hear my approach, they sprint out from the woods to greet me.  Sometimes they lick me, and other times they bite a chunk from my arm.  They escaped today, and I am told this was because I was feeding them festering hay that they refused to eat.  I figure they are better off escaping outright.

The chickens are rdiculous.  They smell, they caw, they fight — today a rooster and a hen were bumping chests and biting beaks and I wasn’t sure if this was how they make children, or if the rooster had cheated on her, but it certainly looked painful.  I am a sympathetic feminist at times, and rooted for the hen, who ultimately won.  The roost smells like the cheese on your gumpsch, and it is there I collect the eggs, about 4-6 per day. 

I am not sure, but I may have impregnated one of the chickens.  I am not saying that I have, but I am not certain, and I am worried.  She’s beautiful, a snowy white, and when all the others are all quacking and making horrendous noise, she would merely stare at me, waiting.  One day, I touched her, I touched the long tail feathers where the eggs come out, but just on the top.  She didn’t seem to mind.  The next day, I started talking to her in a whisper, saying all of my most embarrassing details, and again she didn’t seem to mind.  It was as if I had found my soulmate, but in the body of a poultry.  I wasn’t about to allow my prejudice to ruin true love; after all, I have been waiting my whole life for the “right one”, and many of you who know me know how difficult that has been for me.  I am very choosy with my women, and for good reason.  Why not?  If we have the choice, why not choose?  Well, friends, choose I did, and if it lasted all night long, I would write that here, but I must confess that it was rather brief, albeit enjoyable.  I can only hope it was the same for the chicken, though if I had to wager a guess, I would say that it was, for she nuzzled me behind my ear for quite some time; one can’t really “cuddle” with a chicken as you would a grown adult, for fear of crushing their hollow bones, but one would also be surprised at how tender a chicken can be, even uncooked.  Anyway, it has been a bit of time, and she has stopped looking at me.  I am afraid that she is afraid, I am afraid that she has used me, I am afraid of so many things.  Above all, I want her to be happy, but if she does have the child, I want to help her raise it, even if it means mailing cornmeal from the USA in monthly installments: I’m no monster, after all.  It’s hard when your lover doesn’t speak the same language as you, or any language, at that.  I suppose I write this in vain; Dolores, if you could read, I want you to read this: chicken, human, bison, cabbage, it doesn’t matter to me.  I think that I love you, and I want these last few days I have on the farm to be shared with you in whatever form you’re willing to have me.  We can just watch a movie, go for a walk, eat dinner with everyone else, just as friends, but I want you close.  Please, Dolores.

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~ by nearhelsinki on July 28, 2011.

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