How to see the inner meaning of life

THE BARN

I saw a barn today, old, its paint long since worn away. Its greying planks spoke to me, of times past and tales untold.

Wood bleached and aged by sun and rain had lost its grain and blended in, gone forever nature's pattern delicately edged.

Knotholes, defiant memories of living branch, now themselves lay dying in the passing gleam of fading light.

What stories might this old barn share if given time and voice? Who knows what was housed there, stored there, lived and died there? Who knows who owned this place and sweated there in plaid and denim, bib to strap, who laughed and cursed and frolicked there in moments harsh to tender?

No matter. They are beyond the telling now, as lost as the smell of hay and fodder decades old, gone forever to the passer-by.

More striking still, though silent too, was the shroud of ivy that crept aloft from base to crest, inching upward, slowly, steadily, unchecked for years, cancer-like,

Reaching its goal . . . almost, but for two windows without panes, sightless eyes, unaware, keeping their time-bound vigil to the west like sockets in a skull, Blind to the ivy which threatens even now to close those remaining portals, sealing them forever from the dying light.

"Shout a warning!" I want to say.

Or, better still, leap into the fray while time is left and rip away the encroaching doom that lurks.

"Beware, old barn!" (and owner, too, if one exists) "what time has done and will yet do!"

Too late, The vision passes and soon the barn is gone from view, but not from thought.

Perhaps not now, not soon, but one day someone somewhere will watch and notice, caring, as the ivy creeps round my brow and will be moved to strip it back, just so, holding off the night.

[composed while driving in east central Iowa - 1969]

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