Not much left to it, is there? Just the bare bones. Just the skeleton. Like any of us, an odd, rickety skeleton hides beneath the exterior, but in the case of this old barn, the exterior has been stripped away completely. Now, you know how I feel about old barns because I’ve written extensively about them before in It's a Barn Thing and Old Barns, Old People, and as I’ve said more than once, a garage houses your liabilities but a barn houses your assets. A barn is a part of your life, and as such, it shares in the living and dying, in the triumphs and defeats. It is a member of the family.
|Here lies the old barn . . .|
In any event, I don’t know if we were ever meant to see this skeleton, not after it was “clothed,” anyway. The original barn maker, of course, knew the skeleton intimately, but he covered it with cedar shingles and put his living assets in it. Cows and goats, sheep and chickens. They were all a part of the barn because the farmer trusted it. Then time went on. First the animals left, and then the exterior was slowly hacked away to be used for other purposes.
And I just don’t know if we’re meant to look at an old barn this way. I don’t like it one bit. Every time I see it, I feel as though I have to quickly look away, as if I’m looking at something not meant for my eyes, something shameful. After old age is through and we humans remove our mortal clothing, they place our skeletons in the ground, not on display. They give us a final resting place so our bones remain covered, as bones ought to be. Bones were certainly meant to be covered. That at least shows a little bit of respect, and I can’t see why this barn isn’t given the same consideration.
But in a macabre scene that dots an old country road, the bones stand in the field. The sun bakes them, the rain pelts them, and the ice rips at them. Only the snow offers a downy white coat in winter to the old codger, who accepts it gratefully. Another year of being bare lies ahead for the old skeleton, one more season of erosion in the makeshift graveyard, without even a tombstone to tell its story.
“Here lies the old barn, gone to ground at last. Gather ye flowers in May, for all too soon the hand of Death removes the dewy mantle.”