My mother called the workers Indios - and she did not trust them - hiding my father’s tools and saddle under the smokehouse. She kept a small pistol in her apron when the Indios were not working - and me close at hand.
At sunrise I could see them walk from their camp to the fields where there was still dew on the stalks and cook-fire smoke trailing across the sky.
The workers mowed in an uneven line with the blades of the scythes blinking in the sunlight - arms rising and falling like the steady motion of a machine in the wind heaving crops.
Then at noon they gathered at the stew pot with their faces and chest speckled with chaff. Passing around wineskins and the rough bread my mother left out for them on a white cloth weighted down by stones.
Before returning to the fields, the older men ordered their sons to bring them the scythes for sharpening. They sat in the shade of the trees by the barn scraping the blades with stones as their heads swayed to the foreign songs their women sang from the threshing-room floor.
One day the men were gone. My mother told me the war had crossed the mountains and that the harvesters had returned home. Those few who remained in the fields seemed quieter at the reaping. Their women did not sing anymore.
The fields are still tall with grain and there is much to be done before the rains set in. But my mother says there are not enough young men for mowing or children to bind the sheaves. All we can do is wait for the stalks in the field to tilt under the burden of their bounty and rot in the furrows.
Tom Darin Liskey was born in Missouri but spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction and non fiction has appeared in the Crime Factory, The Burnside Writers Collective, Sassafras Literary Magazine, Hirschworth and Biostories, among others. His photographs have been published in Roadside Fiction, Iron Gall Press, Blue Hour Magazine and Midwestern Gothic. He lives in Texas.