{love & grief} the barn


The doors stood wide open. I could see the long rays of afternoon sunlight reaching through from the space between the barn boards. Queen Anne’s lace and sunflowers dotted the unused paddock. The weather vane, an old heron, dipped its head towards the east, waiting for sunrise already. The rich crimson red walls wrapped themselves around the heavy timber frame. I touched the wood along the south wall. It was rough in places and worn smooth in others. Swallows swooped and dove from unseen openings above my head. Their twittering voices fell over me like drops of water from a waterfall. Their pale bellies flashed as they darted by then disappeared into the soft darkness. I followed the overgrown path around to the back of the barn. The slope of the tin roof touched the clear blue sky gently before dropping off into the long wild grass that grew behind the barn. I pulled a small door open. A old rusted horseshoe hung still above it, putting upwards for luck. Inside the barn, the granary was empty. The floorboards sighed with each step I took. Dust motes floated lazily across the rafters above. Doves spoke in hushed voices to the shadows, singing softly as the summer night stretched and climbed through the walls to dance with the sunset. I found a switch by the door and turned it on. Fairy lights filled the corners with tiny white lights like stars. Sweet hay in mounds sprawled out across the centre aisle. A carefully woven blanket tossed along the side of one stall, slipped down when the breeze through the open doors came up. The barn sat waiting. The silence, as though the bard, the land outside, the universe was holding its breath, slipped around like a kiss hello after a long day in the fields.


Dark green moss dripped from the fallen rafters and broken shingles at the corner of the barn. Rusted farm equipment, broken boards littered the neglected barnyard – torn down and thrown aside by the past. Left behind, the holes stared back at me like wide gaping wounds in the walls. A warning. The locked doors were a dare. A shattered mirror in a worn white wooden frame hung low by the barn doors. The yard and world behind me reflected by a million shards of silvered glass. I refused to look for my reflection in the chaos. Instead, I pushed a loose board aside, ignoring the lock and chained door. I took a deep breath and squeezed through the opening. A bent nail caught the sleeve of my coat, tugging at it like the tiny fingers of a lost child.

I stood under the old rafters. They spread out over my head like arms in prayer. I was the intruder. Unwanted, uninvited. The barn roof sagged in places, barely able to hold the weight of the rafters. Tin and wood balanced precariously over the empty stalls and storage rooms. Faint traces of the day lingered in corners. Light, like a stifled cry pushed past me and fell along the floorboards, interrupted by the cracks. Fading, it drew lines in the dust before disappearing below. Thunder rumbled deeply in the distance. The barn moaned in response. I stood alone with its shadows one last time.


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