Hot Tin Roof: Before Planting

Hot Tin Roof


Leave the screams, the unspoken fights —

“I can’t take it all, I ain’t gonna take it all, I don’t want none of it, I just want” —
to roll naked across a gravel road while the dust kicks up and the blood is drawn
like a goddamned roadmap across ass and knees and chest.
Pick your starting point with a horn-nailed finger and travel your way to the
     southern cleft.

Let the power of the river be like salt in the mouth, sweat on the brow, fever in the
     mind, blood in a stiff prick.
Let the ditch beckon with a promise of soft grass like a lazy woman with good tits
     and a bedroom smile.
Let the field be the tumble of bedsheets and let the moon roll crazy and full in a blue
like a wayward eye turning back in the head — lost in the pump and blow of the river
hear the thrum under your legs as the tractor plows, digging hard into good earth —
to let the seed be planted deep,
deep and warm as it can go —
with a drive and a clatter and a pull
and a roar of machinery pistons
and good heat.


Let the handkerchief be dipped in riverwater.
Let the brow be wiped clean.
Let the lips be parted and pulled back
and the drizzle of cool moisture be taken there.

Allow the muscles their electric twitch.
Allow the breath to come:
the smell of hickory leaves and the hot twist of willow;
the green whisper of wind through bluestem and Indiangrass;
the taste of the breeze on the tongue.

Allow the tractor runner to take the weight of your booted foot.
Allow the soil the sudden dropping plunge of the plow —
the hydraulics like a scream, or like a fight given sudden breath.


But then maybe that’s not you out in that field,
maybe you’re still lying on the side of the road,
clothes torn, rolling almost naked
from the original tumble of the tractor —
blood like a roadmap across your body.

Maybe you fucked it up coming through the ditch
and rolled it in the tall grass
and now that’s it — that’s your life all
contorted and laying there gasping
beside the gravel road
because you never made it across the ditch.


Later there will be tears held back.
Later there will be rage unspoken.

Right now there is a field
like satin sheets stretched long and low
and giving up good dreams
of birth
and growth
and harvest.

Mike Moran lives in Mount Vernon, Iowa. He is a writer, a director, an actor, a schoolteacher, and plays, sings, recites poetry, performs stories and generally acts the fool while representing the ever-mythical Iowa Goatsinger. His new show, “Near Fear,” premieres at the 1st Street Community Center in Mount Vernon at the end of the month. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 230.

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