The Learned Pig

Art – Thinking – Nature – Writing

I Recall Recalling Straw


burning & wildoat-picking when
I was a teenager:

After … wading amongst rods of wheat-heads
or fine barbed fibres of barley awns, crouching
to an horizon of swaying corn to spot
the taller intruders of wildoat heads – thrust
above like green pylons, the spear tear-drops
of their husks & awns spreading threatening

chandeliers of weed …

After … gripping the fine-ribbed, juice-filled
stems close to the ground to tug
dark-clad roots free,
shaking soil away, folding thick stems, compressing
slaughtered wildoats into blue
sweaty-sock-stinking fertiliser bags …

After … hauling blue plastic bags of jabbing
stalks, slung on sunned shoulders,
to the ditch-side dump, the plastic smoothly burning

clenched knuckles. After …

days of this – falling asleep –
perhaps the sixth night, wildoats would dance
in front of my open eyes, my bedroom walls corn
swaying – waiting …

to be picked clean.

And after … pitch-forking meteors of burning straw, sprinkling sparks onto tinder-dry windrows, igniting
the combine’s un-baled stripes – fuses
crackling into a field inferno; feeling
arm-hairs curl and flame-filled air slice
smoke-tongues through my eyes …

After … only a mere day of this – falling asleep –
my bedroom wallpaper would burn, flames
shot from parts of its pattern, smoke
slipping in front of my just
open eyes. As if a glass

with projected images had slid
across my vision. My mind

impregnated and replaying. Not
letting go. Recalling

– this recalling – I see how easily
constant intense experiences sculpt

the field

of a mind’s
axons; set a soul’s design;


dreams; lull a
person to

sleep …


Cover image: Dominique Cameron, Tractor trailer, charcoal on paper, 33x25cm, 2019

This is part of FIELDS, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring fields as natural and (agri)cultural, invisible and visible, poor and productive, created and creators. FIELDS is conceived and edited by Marloe Mens.


The Learned Pig