Marvin Lurie

Bailing Hay (2020)

Minimum wage in 1946 was forty cents.
So the quarter I got for an afternoon on the hay bailer
was short money.
But it was the first hard coin I got for work with my hands.
A farmer and his two sons cut and bailed hay
near where I stayed summers with my grandmother.
My job was to sit on a board next to the chute,
where hay was compressed by a cycling ram.
I pushed long wires through slots in separator boards.
The son on other side would twist them to hold the bails together.
I had to keep up with the steady rhythm of the work.
If I missed a wire and a bail fell apart
we'd have to stop to rake up the hay.
I was a station on the assembly line
an accepted member of the team.
At ten years old
I began to understand what work is.



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