Oct/Nov 2006  •   Spotlight

Crop Growth

by David Massengill

Photo by Jim Gourley

Photo by Jim Gourley

I was 17 when I knew I never wanted to take a girl, and I was 18 when I offered myself to a scarecrow. He'd manifest each September. Strong straw hat, handsome plaid jacket, leather gardening gloves. People didn't believe he moved, yet the birds knew—and I saw. Being friendless, I turned to him for talk: The apples are ripe, the corn is thick. Then we stepped off the fence and I unzipped him. Hay protruded, and I sifted through sticks till I found shaft. The land was rust-red, the way it gets when spirits prepare to step out of things. I pulled his arms over my chest like I was carrying him, yet he carried me.

I'd set up apartment in the city by the January the local boys tore him from perch. His decapitation, dismemberment, and incineration occurred as I read novels, watered ferns, built sinew at the gay gym. I dated, and he disappeared. The scarecrow has no place in winter. One doesn't try to intimidate animals during that season; one kills them. I still sense him when I visit home for holidays. Bits of his insides are in the breeze passing through shed, and his scent laces the green lining highway. I've met plenty of lovers in the city, men with coveted flesh and Olympians' frames. But only through him have I touched the impossible.