The Farmer

I was driving through a highway toll booth one Friday evening in May, and went through the usual mindless motions of reaching for my four quarters and handing them to the toll booth operator. As I placed them into a weathered hand and looked up into the face of the owner of this hand, I was struck by what I saw. A middle aged man gazed back at me with the most sweet yet melancholic eyes, eyes that seemed to wander far from the booth in which he stood. He looked lost in himself, and in the moment our eyes locked, my heart suddenly felt overwhelmed by these eyes. They were aching with the desire to be seen.

And I saw him.

 My poem was inspired by this man, this toll booth operator, this farmer.


 

The Farmer –

.

was actually a toll booth operator.

Saw hundreds of faces pass him by every single week of his existence.

Savored the three-second small talk with everyone that passed through,

liked to make bets with himself

on how many people he could get to flash him a smile.

Some days he’d cash in at 0.

.

On Mondays –

.

this toll booth man wore overalls.

Strapped ’em over his shoulders like a farmer would

one that owns a lotta land and seven cows-

he’d lose himself to this on Mondays.

Imagined he was standing in fields of grass,

nothing but green and fresh air for miles.

.

The man pretended everything in nature belonged to him-

wished he was a farmer

creating life with his own calloused hands

like some god everyone in Iowa would believe in.

But that was on Monday.

.

On Tuesdays –

.

he saw miles of pavement

and a four-by-six cubicle dropped in the center of it

where he was constantly surrounded by cars full of people

but never looked at

never made to feel anything but worthless.

He wore a t-shirt, jeans, and worn-down sneakers on Tuesdays.

.

The rest of the week –

.

he’d spend mustering up the courage to make it through to Monday again.

To remember how good it feels on Monday

to wear overalls and realize he could still be farmer, someday.

It’s the one day a week he whispers to himself,

Don’t worry. It’ll happen. And when it does, I want to be as far from the highway as possible.”

.

But that was on Monday.

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