The Hay Wain

The Hay Wain, 1821
John Constable
The National Gallery- London, England
Oil on Canvas
130.2×185.4 cm

I had forgotten how beautiful this place was
Or maybe I buried it deep down
Along with the sound of my mother’s sobs as I left
And the color of the water outside my bedroom window
I turned my back and swore I would never come back
I was restless
So restless

I remember playing in the creek in front of my house when I was little
My dad would be hard at work in the hayfields
Getting ready for the winter
But I was still in summer
Finding crawfish and snails
Buried under the cool, dark mud
And chasing my brothers with these new found treasures

We would lay underneath that oak tree beyond my house
Letting the sun dry our
Mud-caked faces and hands
I liked to watch my father
Gather the hay into piles
The sun beating down upon him
It seemed like everything was beating down upon him then

My favorite part of the day was watching the hay wain
Slowly make its way through
My watery playground
The creaking of the wooden wheels
The slow, methodical gate of that weary horse

But I also hated the look
in that man’s eye as he drove past me
Envious, sad, yearning
For something, for another time, I never knew what

I was so innocent back then
Playing in the water
Laughing and splashing about
Burdens of my father and that man
Were not upon my shoulders yet

But then I went to the city
And threw myself into school
Getting ahead was all I cared about, even to the point of destroying the
Friendships I had made
And little by little I
Got that look in my eye
The envious, sad, yearning
I saw so many times from my father
And that man on the hay wain

I don’t know why exactly I came back here
I don’t think one ever knows why they go back home
Just something inside
Says its time

I can imagine my brothers and I playing
I can see us if the sun hits the water just right
The mud on our faces and hands
Our childhood dog Emma chasing us
My mother always watched us from the kitchen window
Smiling and laughing at us as she peeled potatoes

I was so restless
Ready to leave this place
Where I know my heart was full
Of love, of beauty, of boyhood dreams
But now it is full
Of bitterness, selfishness, and hate

So here I am
Standing on the edge of my boyhood playground
With a suit collar that is too tight
And shoes that pinch my toes
But here is where tears come to my eyes
And my heart actually feels something
Its been so long since that has happened

And I take my shoes off
No wrench them off
And that shirt and tight collar are on the ground
I am running and splashing
As I did so long ago
Like no time has passed between
that boy and this man


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