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Harvest Tales

North Central Kansas

Mitchell County

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at KansasMuseum@kshs.org.

Greg German

The Last Day of Harvest

Greg German submitted a sequence of ten harvest poems, three of which are included on these pages. The poems follow a young boy, his father, and grandfather through their own personal harvests. Currently a resident of Kansas City, Kansas, German wrote about his experiences on the family farm near Glen Elder.

The Last Day of Harvest

You climb up and check the oil
the same as all the other days,
grease the machine in all the hidden
places until you know
it'll run slick.
Then you start the engine,
feel every nut and bolt
brace against the first surge
of fuel. And maybe
you feel like the old man
who knows tonight is the last night
he will have to climb into bed. Field
past field, you think
back trying to remember
how good the first harvest day
felt--how the heat,
and wheat dust welcomed you
like a mother's challenge
to walk. Acre after acre, grain
has bouquet'd into your throat,
your steel cylinder gut
digesting load after load--hours
monogrammed inside this cab
when you felt like a combine king,
your country a kingdom stretched
to the horizon's black-thread
crease. More hours you were nothing
--a wrench tightened instinct
lifting and lowering
the header, suggesting the machine
faster and slower, internal sounds
felt before heard, metal and rubber.
Then you live it,
the last round, a narrow swath
where you've never been, tied down
by a row of uncut corners,
tokens from every round,
leading to the road.
And then it's over.
Nothing left but stubble.
The last uncut corner
cut. A good friend gone.

Greg German also submitted the poems The 1st Day of Harvest and Lunch Time.

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.