A scent of new mown timothy hay spirals me down to my 15th year.

While war raged overseas I was a hired hand volunteer

milking 40 Holstein cows for a buck a day

dodging flecks of cow manure as Bessie’s plops

filled the trough I would soon be shoveling out.

Drove a rusty red chevy pick-up truck

filled with clanking 80 gallon cans of milk,

hauling them on to a moving conveyer belt

at the I.G.A. coop creamery 5 miles away.

Embraced by the farmer, his wife and her spinster sister

they fed me like a hungry bear out of hibernation

with apple-pan-dowdy for desert at every meal.

Mowing and baling hay in the blazing sun, moving

up and down rows with monotonous military precision

my only reward at the end of the day was

shooting varmints from the front porch as the

sultry sun went down and the new moon winked hello.

I soon dropped my plan to become a vet after delivering blood

soaked glaucous covered calves, castrating squealing pigs

and artificially inseminating howling Holsteins in heat.

Surging with youthful vitality I could feel the bucolic fecundity

of the earth beneath me and had the strangest vague urge to

penetrate somebody or something somehow, until the spinster,

who was twice my age was drawn to my licentious aura.

Like the coastguard answering a Mayday signal

she began surprise visits in the middle of the night.

Now she was the volunteer offering to teach me anything

I wanted to know, since all I knew about sex was fantasies

about what might go on between Rita Hayworth’s dancing legs.

To satisfy my curiosity she invited me to have a look.

Diving under the covers with my zippo lighter I caught a glimpse

of what looked like an involuted daffodil as fragile and wondrous

as a fluttering Hooded Oriole in flight.

As ripe Braeburns tumbled from the orchard I left knowing

I had arrived as innocent as a wobbly new born colt struggling to stand,

but was going home feeling more like a stallion rearing on his hind legs

crying huzzah to the baby blue sky above.

Milton P. Ehrlich