This monologue was published in the anthology Monologues for Women by Women edited by Tori Haring-Smith. It is approximately 3-minutes. Feel free to use it as an audition piece. Please let me know how it works if you do!
By Cynthia Franks
(GIDA—40s-50s walks out of an old falling-down farm house. She carries a suitcase and a handful of yellow straw. She sits on the suitcase and speaks to the audience.)
Hay is an emotional crop. Wheat, soy, you put them in the ground when you should and barring a weather catastrophe, you harvest them in the fall when it’s time. But hay– hay’s a crop fraught with emotion. Each decision is life or death. Your people ever put in hay?
Life or death. When to plant? When to cut? The hay wagons, the bailer, how many people you need to bring it in… The weather–always matching wits with the weather. Weather usually wins. Cutting’s what puts most people over the edge. You ever cut hay?
So many, many things can go wrong. We don’t do hay anymore. Not since Mother passed. Each decision could mean no crop at all, your livestock starves or freezes. Life or death. If you cut on the wrong day and it doesn’t dry right, you could burn your barn down.
You don’t think it can happen? I’m here to tell you it can. Seen it. You bet your sweet pututti, from hay. Like compost. It gets hot in the middle. Ferments. It gets hot from the breaking down. The stuff on the outside the bail is dry– Poof! No barn.
That’s why you don’t keep your stock and your hay in the same place. And if it rains after you cut, forget it. All gone. That’s why you cut half and half. You at least end up with half a crop. Half’s better than nothing. (Holds out the straw) You know the guy from the humane society thought this was hay? Can you believe it?
How can some one who doesn’t know the difference between hay and straw be caring for my babies? They just come in here and took’em. Can’t tell hay from straw.
Yeah, hay is an emotional crop. If you cut at the right time, mid July give or take, it’s the hottest four days of the year. You’re out there working in flannel shirt and your heaviest jeans. Hay’ll rip your skin to shreds. Feel that. Imagine that on the tender part of your arm? Every one’s hot. Everyone’s irritable. Something breaks down and everyone’s got an opinion how to fix it. And every one’s positive they’re right.
My mother–there was a women who knew hay. You know there’s not a man on this planet knows how a knotter works. The thing that ties the hay bales. They think they know, but they don’t. The knotter and bail twine were invented by Balen Cordage Company. That’s why they’re called hay bales. That’s what Ma told me. Don’t know if it’s true. Don’t care. I like to think it’s true.
The knotter’s a complicated mechanism. A complete mystery, like the weather. My mother could fix’em. She had the gift; and about the weather too. People were always coming over here to get her to fix their knotters. Ask anyone around here, they’ll tell you. Vivian Thorton knew her knotters. Well, any of us oldies, not these cry-baby farmer wannabes, “I want city water, I want piped gas, horses smell funny.” Really burns my butt!
Next thing we’ll have side walks. Over my dead body will they put a side walk in front of my house. Stay in a place long enough and the city will move to you. That’s why they come and took my babies; my horses, my lambs, my little dogs. These city people moving in. People around here know there’s nothing wrong with the way I keep my babies. Kennel license. My mother didn’t need a kennel license. More than five dogs and it’s the law. “You don’t have a proper facility. You can’t keep them.”
What’s wrong with my house? What’s wrong with my barn? So it leans. It’s leaned like that for fifty years. They’re little dogs. And people who think hay is straw are caring for them. Terriers; smart as a whip. Hard to train. Then there’s my Seldon. My horse. I was a young girl when Seldon came into my life. They said he’d never live. I knew. Hay was good that year. Got the whole crop in; dry fresh; young– He was getting thin. Cause he’s dying. Not cause I didn’t care for him. It’s his time. A horse lives on a place almost forty years, he should be allowed to die there. Well… guess it’s time to go. (Picks up suitcase.) Hay… is an emotional…