It was back in ’63 they set down in my field,
and I was too damn angry to be scared.
I knew that crop was gone and it wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
When they come out of their spaceship—
no, no it wasn’t a door that swung down like on a castle,
but a giant car door, like on my Buick?—
they come out, three of ‘em no taller than my knee,
and just stared at me, no expression in those big glassy eyes,
no sorrow for what they done to my field.
“We come in peace,” they said without sayin’ it out loud but I heard it in my head
and I looked at my flattened, withered wheat and said, “The hell you do.”
Have you ever seen mangled wheat, the stalks cracked, the feathers singed?
A whole season: It’s enough to make you cry. And I did.
Standin’ in the middle of my broken field with those three aliens, wellin’ up,
the door to their giant ship propped open,
a sickening light pourin’ from inside
and slicin’ across my barren field like a knife.
They do somethin’ like rock, paper, scissors and one comes over and tells me
I’m supposed to be some kind of alien ambassador.
100 acres, gone, the exhaust from their craft fellin’ my crop like a tornado,
the shoots fallin’ like dominoes, like ambushed soldiers, the stink latchin’ onto my nostrils.
“You fellas best be on your way,” I said as patiently as any man who just lost his livelihood can, and for the first time they look around.
Sure I think they’re doin’ damage assessment, conjurin’ a way to bring the wheat back,
and I picture those fuzzy stalks risin’ like an army of mini Lazaruses across the dead plain,
work hard to send that image to them with my mind.
But they’re fixed on somethin’ else now, and it’s Tessie, comin’ toward us, haunch-slow, jaws workin’, wheat cracklin’ beneath her bovine hooves.
I point to her, my prize heifer, shake my head and give them a firm “NO!”
But Tessie and the aliens, they’re starin’ at one another, stock still, hypnotized.
Even today I wonder what they said that made her walk right past me, through the blade of
sharp light and into that shiny crop killin’ machine:
You’ll be happier with us, He don’t appreciate you, YOU are the true alien ambassador.
So that’s how I lost my wheat and my cow in the same hour.
The man from the insurance company don’t believe me, but I know you do.
You see this stuff all the time, so I was hopin’ you could talk to ‘im,
tell ‘im about the giant car door, the two-foot Martians, a prized cow that trundled,
hooves clickin’, into another dimension.