Jessica Gigot is a poet, farmer, musician, and teacher. Her small farm (Harmony Fields) produces artisan sheep cheese and herbs. Her first book of poems, Flood Patterns, came out in 2015 and her writing appears in several publications, including Orion, Gastronomica, Taproot, and Poetry Northwest.
On Twitter: @shepherdessjess
On Instagram: @shepherdessjess and @harmonyfields
Farmers at the Museum
Inspired by William Cumming, Mural of Skagit County Agriculture, 1941
The mural was found in a barn
Now it hangs in a museum
Painted on commission in 1941
By a soon-to-be famous 24-year old.
The mural depicts the trades of the time:
Logging, Dairy farming
Berry picking, Railroad building.
The slate sky is a thin
Margin over male bodies
Bending, reaching, crouching.
They work in silence,
Facing away from each other
Slender, tan cow hips
Take center, patiently being
Milked. I think about how
These jobs having changed
And how they have not. Just
This morning I was bending
Over to weed a row of parsley,
But new railroads are being stopped.
Berry pickers vote to unionize.
At least one dairy farm has gone robotic.
Still the simplicity of this scene
Settles something in me. The cool,
Natural tones feel like home.
As I leave the museum I run into
A farmer friend who has been
Farming a lot longer than me.
We smile and realize that we are
Both here for the same reason.
I don't recognize him at first.
We are out of the field, out of context.
He just finished delivering
Vegetables to a nearby restaurant.
His hands are coarse.
He smiles honestly.
I could see him hunched
In this mural. Instead he is outside
The painting, in real life, looking
Back in time.