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Title, Deed

It’s just a Saturday afternoon drive, but the farmer is in the field. On my way home, I look over my left shoulder. The dump truck parks near the edge. I pay attention to the stars inside each square of the metal sides. They’re not fully filled in stars. They are the hastily scratched in kind. Crosses, like making marks, like making note of something to remember, but not too dark to be quickly erased. Marks, even light haphazard ones, mean signature, ownership. My eyes return to the road and stretch above the glovebox horizon that guards my own only legal title.

The next time I drive by the dump truck parks near the corner, hood up, engine expose. Red front. Blue back. That dump truck is mine. The lurching, jumping, shifting. The jingly chain smell on my hands. The fear, the awe, the fun, I felt when it crunched haphazardly into the yard. The fear, the awe, the fun I felt in the presence of my grandfather.

To the mill. To the general store. To the fields. The ripped cushion was scented in corn dust. The acidic calmness of oil and grease of the pole barn that housed all the machinery matched the dump truck’s gear shift. My father talks now and then about who has which piece of machinery. Despite stories and time, those gears and green metal sides, the honeycombed step ups and curved wheel wells made for climbing belong to me. Each one was unwrapped and given to me in the deep security of my newborn sleep spent tucked inside gray coveralls, blue bibs and engine whir.

A third Saturday in October, the dump truck is absent from the field. Perhaps it carried a final load, or perhaps the popped hood told a story of no more loads. On the final turn home, I face a lumbering wideness in the distance. A piece of farm machinery I can’t identify specifically, only its arrogance and overstating of its purpose. I clenched my hands around the wheel because of gusting winds. Next, I steeled my breath for the imminent sweep, hopefully not too deeply, into the ditch. I inhale. I wait. I exhale. I don’t have to meet it. The machine turns into our western field driveway. It’s the renter set to till the compacted soil around the edges.

I search the internet for another definition, “deed”. Two options flick past my eyes in Google search blue. The second is the one I thought I was searching for, “A property deed is a legal document that transfers the ownership of real estate from a seller to a buyer.” The first reads, “an action that is performed intentionally or consciously.” I close my eyes. I watch the looming piece of machinery again, ease, just barely, between two surviving trees and know that something in my hand is so far out. Papers flapping, flying like migrating wings. Asking to get things back that still belong to me. Asking to give things away that never were. It’s just an October day, another completed harvest and time awaiting the end transformed into as much work as the beginning.


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