Bjelland has arranged seventeen tractors
along his driveway west of town,
all built before DDT was outlawed
and parity turned into welfare.
Like a stalled Fourth of July parade,
they inch toward the pavement
that used to be a prairie trail.
The door to the shed behind them is always closed.
My friend, Arne, who quit farming after they changed the farm bill,
says every farmstead along this highway
looks like an estate sale waiting to happen.
Arne spends his time scouring the plains
in search of grain trucks that don’t run,
but help him remember when he could make a living farming,
and might be bought for less than collectors would pay.
He must have driven by Bjelland’s place hundreds of times.
We’re all waiting to see what will happen.
In the end, someone will sift through the leavings,
heirs from Phoenix or Seattle cleaning up the home place
after Dad’s coronary and Mom’s Alzheimer’s,
every feed trough and percolator a decision.
I like the tractorcade for its forward backwardness,
like a cowboy striding into a Fargo bar.
I’m still what I used to be, it says.
I’ve come to town to sell my calves,
but don’t expect me to like it.