Poet

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2008

Claire Wilhelm-Safian

Dust particles danced in the shafts of moonlight that filtered through the holes in the barn roof. The sight wasn’t much, just a regular old barn, but the sounds, ah, the sounds were special. Galileo, the owl, hooted from the rafters of the old building. Bella, the foal, shuffled restlessly in her stall, while Sugar, her mother, tried as well as she could to ignore the feisty young horse. In the chicken coop, Cara, the old hen, ruffled her feathers uncomfortably, yet remained sitting, protecting her future chicks from the cold. The five piglets of the barn, Penny, Sally, Marvin, Wendy, and Dennis, snuggled up to their mother, Whitney, snoring softly. Catherine’s cowbell jingled quietly as she moved into a more comfortable position.

Slowly, the old barn door creaked open and the silhouette of a man was visible against the moonlight. The man stood there for a while, contemplating his surroundings. Galileo turned his owl head around and stared at him with his penetrating yellow eyes, though he soon relaxed. The man was usually here during the night, writing his poems.

The poet fiddled with a flashlight. Once on, he pointed it at the ground so as not to disturb the sleeping animals and swung the barn door shut. He looked around at the farm animals, all deep in the realm of dreams, that is, except for the horses. Sugar was obviously annoyed at Bella, who ran around the stall with chaotic energy. The man walked over to the foal and, after rummaging around in his pocket for a few seconds, stretched out his hand. Bella accepted the carrot without hesitation and allowed the man to pet her muzzle. The loving strokes soothed the young horse and she calmly lay down in her stall.

Poet writing in the barn

The only time he had peace and quiet was at night in the barn

Once the foal was asleep, the man walked towards the back of the barn, his footsteps muffled by the straw that littered the floor. Next to the pigpen there was a wooden bench. He sat down and pulled a small notebook from his pocket. He opened it to the bookmark. The page was covered with crossing-outs and mistakes. He had tried to write during the day He often found it to be challenging inside the house, with the baby crying, his young daughter spilling his ink all over the floor, and his wife yelling at his teenage son all the time. The poet sighed heavily and put his notebook to the side. The only time he had peace and quiet was at night in the barn. Here, he was in his element.

The poet listened for a minute or two. He was surrounded by the night sounds, the crickets chirping outside and the rhythmic breathing of the farm animals. He let the sounds take control of his body, control of his mind. In the air the sounds were trapped, but on the page they were free, free to be admired for their beauty. The sounds were restless to escape and they took control of the poet and he was the portal, the portal that led them to the real world. Without noticing it, his hand inched slowly towards his notebook and quill. He began writing.

He wasn’t sure what he wrote, the verses of the poem just poured out of his soul and onto the clean page. The strawberry- red ink flowed smoothly, guided by his hand… no, by his heart. He wrote of the owl’s constant vigilance, the hen’s patience, the cow’s indifference, the foal’s incessant energy, the pig’s role as a mother of five. He wrote how all of them and the melodic sounds of the night were intertwined like strong rope. It seemed to him that they belonged together.

Before he knew it, the man had filled two whole pages. He smiled. The barn had worked its nighttime magic once again. He felt much more relaxed, ready for another day in the fields, another day of work. He stood up and strode towards the big barn door, past the pigpen, the chicken coop, the stalls. The poet opened the door and took one last look around the old room. Then, he quietly swung the large door shut. And the dust struck up a dance.

Poet Claire Wilhelm-Salian

Claire Wilhelm-Safian, 11
San Jose, California

Poet Chasen Shao

Chasen Shao, 10
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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