THE TRACTOR AND THE PLOUGH • by Lucy Gregg Muir

The tractor loved the plough. He loved how she trailed along behind him, cutting deep furrows in their wake. He loved how the dirt would separate and fold over itself as her narrow pointed tip dug deep, dug deep the rows for seeding. He loved that she was strong and yet her foreshare left a dainty little streak in the middle of the line. But it was more than that. It was the way they worked together, his forward effort dragging her industriously behind him. Without her, he was power without purpose.

The tractor loved how the plough needed him, needed him in a way different from any of the other implements on the farm, the wagons, the combine, the waterers and tillers, the seeders and harrow — oh, the harrow. He was fond of the harrow, but she was shallow.

The tractor would back up to the plough, her hitch raised and then lowered into place, connected. She trembled as his engine revved, his clutch released, the sudden pull forward, her wild jerking response an answer to her calling. Together they would ride into sunlit fields or through rain drenched pastures to where their work waited for them.

Though she had sprung from a lowly hoe, the plough was proud of her heritage. She was an agricultural goddess, turning the soil to bring nutrients to the surface, lifting the sod up and over her mouldboard, leaving the rows open for seeding. The plough knew her true beauty lay in what the fields would ultimately yield in her wake. She also knew that without her tractor’s power — his gears, the power of his driveshaft — her purpose was unmet. And for that, the plough loved the tractor.

Though the winters were long and lonely, the plough survived the long still months on hope. She brightened as daylight came earlier and the sun set later, knowing the cold metal of her share would once again be made hot from friction as it was drawn through the earth by her tractor. So she waited patiently for months, while the fields were barren. But come spring! In spring she came alive again as she followed her tractor. Together they would leave their mark on the field, and from their work together would come the corn and the hay.

Their love was grounded in a dependency as deep as the furrows they ploughed, a dependency that grew into a desire as full as the harvest bounty. They were as dependent upon each other for their purpose as were the water and wheel, the wind and mill, the heart and soul.

But then the seasons changed, and he didn’t come. The days grew longer, and he didn’t come. And the years went by, and he didn’t come. Her mouldboard rusted. Her foreshare became dull.

At her lowest, when she seemed nothing more than an old rusted antique, something to be laughed at for its simplicity of function, the door to the barn opened. Gloved hands pulled and shimmied her wheels from the ruts that had formed beneath her where she had settled into them over the years. She cringed at the scraping of metal on metal as she was clumsily connected to a shining blue truck. It was strange to be hitched again, but stranger still not to be hitched to her tractor.

The blue truck pulled her down the dirt road, her shares raised and useless. They passed by the field she had once so proudly tilled. In place of the long rows of corn and wheat, however, sat large boxes sitting in circles that went against the grain.

They drove far behind the boxes to a pond she remembered ploughing around every year as she prepared the sod for radiant August sunflowers. Ploughing in circles had been a joy, a break from their earnest row-by-row work. But now, the pond was dry, filled instead with the skeletons of rusted tools and equipment. And there he was, amidst the decay, her tractor.

The plough was unhitched and pushed into the tangled pile. She rested next to her tractor, his paint faded, his engine quiet.

A few days later, a large truck came and with magnet enabled lifted the tractor and the plough onto a flatbed, drove to a scrap yard, and dumped them in line for the compacter. Pressured blocks slowly coupled the two pieces of machinery, but more than just at ball and hitch as they had been coupled so many times before. Once separate, their tired bodies writhed gracefully into one sleek, rigid and strong steel block.

And soon, soon thereafter the two who had depended upon each other so deeply and with a desire so strong, the two whose combined purpose was seen in the harvest year after bountiful year, were reborn. They now cruised as one up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu forming the high-strength steel B-pillars within a gleaming red Tesla. And their purpose? Pure joy.


Lucy Gregg Muir is a writer and middle school English teacher. When she’s not haranguing her students for misusing homophones, or chasing one daughter out of tattoo emporiums and the other away from absurd My Little Pony videos, she writes. Her published poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction pieces are scattered around the web. She maintains her website, but not very well. Ms. Muir is googleable.


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