'High o'r the courthouse they stuck his head on a spear'
I'm in this hay mow about 50 feet off the ground moving bales down five tiers to the guy below me who's loading them onto a 45-foot drop deck black semi trailer and wind's decided to blow from the other direction now, so we're getting big fat wet flakes coming in of the lake into this barn and flying into my face at the perfect angle to lift chaff into a swirling mess sticking to the shirt I am currently sweating through.
So I start thinking about the Easter 1916 Revoluton.
I repeat to myself everything I know about the event and mentally organize it into pieces and from the pieces I single out themes and run them through, through the history of Ireland, previous revolutions, biographies of the revolutionaries, the following revolution of Michael Collins that was victorious, secondary influences on culture, English and global perspectives on Ireland and how they changed things and how they changed, other movements of oppressed people and how they shared in these themes . . .
And I spread out my themes - the manner of socialist knowledge in fighting an industrialist foe defined as capitalist, the political role of culture in identification in a time of revolution, the ability to self-indentify with art and the violence this breeds, the tension between honor-nobility-martyrdom and brutality-fierceness-victory - comparing and catagorizing and running together to find other themes and other stories.
I sink my hook deep in the end of the bound hay. Lift the bale to my knee. Take hold of the bottom edge. Whip my hook into the other end. Lift-heave-launch the bale around and out over the tier's ledge to tumble to my partner's swinging hook.
In the hay above me I see Ireland. In the hay below me I see culture meeting oppression and oppression meeting culture. I read a thesis in this bale, feel a paper with that hook. I shuffle the straw for knowledge, come up with worlds and move another bale.