Will H. Blackwell, Jr. “Literary Brushcut”
The neighbors, down the meadow, wanted to borrow my large Bush-hog. But, macho—and, transiently, bold as a Bard in a pub [rather, having already partaken of drafts of home-brew]—I said, “No, I’d prefer to just do it for you, myself!”
So, bodaciously, I commenced the cut—rapidly shearing strips, leaving curved, grainy stripes—like flattened dunes—down the uneven slope, toward their silted, rain-swollen farm-pond.
The straying fescue and boney stalks of rattle-pod—scythed—flew out from under my trailing, unevenly hovering rotary-disc, like scraggly, stiff side-head-hair spewed straight from a barber’s rough-cut clippers.
The lower ground seemed firm as well, until the climbing, capillary moisture wicked up around the weighted, gouging wheels—which began to squish like fat-toed feet, treading where they most certainly should not.
The tires, spinning deeper into mud, turned suddenly sideways, slipping slowly but inexorably toward the water’s annoyingly indefinite edge—curse-words whirling off like the just-sliced spikes of blue-grass—the Hog, finally stopping, angled-back at such a tilt as to flirt precariously with submersion.
Nothing to do now, I thought, but back my Pickup up, i.e., down, the muck of the slumping hill, and chain the John Deere to the magnum bumper-knob—recently bobbed to the rear-lift of the jacked-up truck.
But, a bit of a jerking start, and the linked metal-umbilicus snapped, releasing the tractor, backward, into the sucking womb of water, where the bulky mulcher sank beneath the temporarily roiling surface—in a welling, dirty fluid, deeper than I might have guessed—dragging the hapless J. Deere in behind it, in an odd reversal of pull.
In recent times, the combined-machine emerges in episodes of drought, rising as a soggy, jointed Phoenix from the lowering water level—The precision cam, crank, and differential (that no longer turns) clogged with minnow carcasses and cow dung—The seat, and at-first-merely-rusted handles, layered to smoothness with a dingy-green of pond-scum algae, and darker, bacterial slime.
Each time I think of rescue—from its sodden, wiry moorings of reeds—a re-submergence of the Hog-assembly begins, when the erratic rains decide to start again.
Well, I suppose there’s nothing to do, these days, but reflect on Shakespeare in such cycles—You know, something about, “full fathom five”*—something like, “rich and strange”*—something regarding, “a sea-change.”* The rods, tubes and fittings of the tractor are mostly become—by these mineral-thickened waters—encrusted, calcified, and mired!
Gradually rising, and falling, like a recalcitrant wave, the formerly mechanical colossus has been transformed—and is likely so to be for some decades to come! It is now of sludgy, fluxing, horribly sticky “coral made.”*
I told the neighbors yesterday (when they asked), I thought it would do no harm if my B-Hog stayed in their pond, yet a while (I actually said, “a month or two”). Because, after all, “the gas-tank and oil-case are sealed!” [to which I add, today, for you who read this—“at least until the lime ions, mixed with agricultural phosphorus, blister through”].
*Quotes (two and three paragraphs above) are from Ariel’s lyrical utterance in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”