The Old Barn at the Bottom of the Fogs

^X/here's this barn's house? It never had a house,

Or joined with sheds in ring-around a dooryard.

The hunter scuffling leaves goes by at dusk,

The gun reversed that he went out with shouldered.

The harvest moon and then the hunter's moon.

Well, the moon after that came one at last

To close this outpost barn and close the season.

The fur-thing, muff-thing, rocking in and out

Across the threshold in the twilight fled him.

He took the props down used for propping open,

And set them up again for propping shut,

The wide-spread double doors two stories high.

The advantage-disadvantage of these doors

Was that tramp taking sanctuary there

Must leave them unlocked to betray his presence.

They could be locked but from the outside only.

There is a fellow on the ocean now

Or down a mine or at the mill (I met him)

Who slept there in a mow of meadow hay

One night (he told me). And the barn he meant

Was the one I meant. Our details agreed.

We said Well twice to what we had in common,

The old barn at the bottom of the fogs.

Its only windows were the crevices

All up and down it. So that waking there

Next morning to the light of day was more

Like waking in a cage of silver bars.

Its locks were props—and that reminded him.

Trust him to have his bitter politics

Against his unacquaintances the rich

Who sleep in houses of their own, though mortgaged.

Conservatives, they don't know what to save. Consider what they treasure under glass, Yet leave such lovely shafts outdoors to perish. Would someone only act in time we yet Might see them on a rack like famous oars, Their label Prop-locks, only specimens In chestnut now become a precious wood As relic of a vanished race of trees— When these go there will be none to replace them. Yes, right I was the locks were props outside; And it had almost given him troubled dreams To think that though he could not lock himself in, The cheapest tramp that came along that way Could mischievously lock him in to stay.

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