The Hired Man by KateLynn Hibbard

appears in the doorway
of the milking shed, a shadow
filling the square of light,
his face obscured, his eyes
unseen. Watching her. She turns
away, keeps milking, rests
her head on Abigail’s flank, listens
to her deep stomach rumble. Pulls
her teats, one, two, one, two,
rhythmic squirt of warm milk
in the pail and without warning
the stool is gone and she is sprawled
across dirty straw, the pail
upended, blue-white stream
gathering dirt as it rolls across
the cracked floor, her face pushed
into hay bales stacked
in the corner, muffled screams
withered on bitter wind, the tearing
of her muslin underskirt harsh
like an axe cleaving wood, she watches
the milk roll across the floor, when will
it end, then slow to a trickle, she prays
for God’s forgiveness, knows
she will soon be punished for losing
her morning’s work.

Kate Lynn Hibbard

KateLynn Hibbard’s books of poems include Sleeping Upside Down and Sweet Weight, and she is editor of When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwest Experience. She is working on a manuscript of historical poems about women’s experiences in the Great Plains frontier. A long-time singer with One Voice Mixed Chorus and a professor of writing and women’s studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, she lives with many pets and her spouse Jan in Saint Paul.




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