“The Barn”

“The Barn”
© 2013 by Michael L. Utley

On weed-strewn verge of fallow field
The barn still stands, a silent revenant
Of ages past, a mournful sentiment
Amid the dying elms concealed

Its boards the hue of ancient bones
The wind has long since scoured paint away
As season after season rendered gray
Once brilliant lively crimson tones

Dead teasel husks caress its skin
A memory of lilac, wild rose
And hollyhock a melancholy prose
No longer whispered in the din

Of bitter zephyrs in the loft
That magnify each sorrow-laden groan
Each pensive sigh and every hopeless moan
Of dreams denied and yearnings scoffed

On cupola atop the roof
The antiquated weather vane points north
In rusted rictus, ever drawing forth
That demon wind on cloven hoof

Inside, the haymow lost to time
Illusory, a phantom from the past
Whose gilded straws have disappeared at last
An unseen grotesque paradigm

The ladder to the loft on high
Clings stubbornly amid the swirling motes
That dance in hellish pace to eldritch notes
The song of death, fey herald’s cry

And from the loft extends the beam
That transits barn so high above wood floor
Above the stack of hay that is no more
And from this, like some ghastly dream

There hangs a rope no longer there
Recast ephemeral by passing years
Whose insubstantial form allays no fears
Whose memory I’m doomed to bear

All silence now, sere winter’s grasp
Has stilled the air, the motes drift in the night
In moonbeams pale, and from the rope drawn tight
About my neck, my dying gasp

Lilts softly in the midnight frost
As it has done each night for years gone by
Eternal recompense to rectify
All that I’ve done, all that I’ve lost

(Author’s note: I debated whether to post this piece for quite a while. Some of the imagery could be considered disturbing, particularly in the last two stanzas. I used the narrator’s suicide as a metaphor for guilt, shame and loss and how those emotions can haunt us for a lifetime. I considered inserting a trigger warning at the beginning and spent several days researching studies and opinions on such tactics, with the results varying widely and no real general consensus met on how to handle sensitive or disturbing material. In the end, I decided against a trigger warning for several reasons, and chose to add this note instead.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, please talk to a healthcare professional, call your local area suicide hot-line or discuss it with a friend or family member. Above all, know you’re not alone. There is help available to get you through this difficult time.)

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