A pearl-pink dawn holds gray against the crunchy earth
as cold air creeps up your sleeves, down your neck.
Time for honey dippin' -- time for the Saturday ritual.
Pitchforks are our rods and staffs as we scoop and pitch
'til the spreader runs over with "honey," ready to return
to the fields -- a starting-over in the cycle of it all.
The air thickens with the smell of sweat, wet straw,
fermented grain, and methane; near pleasant -- mixed
with icy drafts. There is little talk in the growing light.
Loads later, stalls re-hayed, milkers file-in from the cold.
Milking, we press our faces into their warm hair hides.
Barn cats appear, begin to lick squirts of hot raw milk -
out of the air and off their wet closed-eyed faces.
The cows feed in their stanchions: blood-hot steam rises
from our pails - its creamy fragrance enters our souls.