The house bursting and yet empty. This is a bareness of harvest or pestilence. Tilly put the book down when her Aunt asked what she was reading. She made an excuse and escaped through the kitchen. Hurried along the pockmarked lane. The keys were cold in her palm, which was odd, seeing as they had been hung by the Aga. When she climbed the gate she heard him muttering about townies always f’ing over good gates by not climbing over hinge end. The tractor won’t start at first, takes a little coaxing. Great Old Lady, done more than her fair share of things and would carry on longer than he would no doubt. She eased it into gear and checked the harrow out of the back window. He’d liked things finished, seen through to the end. Today was as good a day as any.
When the backboard drops they spill like water over a fall, woolly bodies frothing from the flight decks, feet upon each others’ backs. There is a boy behind the hurdles, already knee bent in anticipation, fingers spread for the catch. Outside, a woman is selling cauliflower. Holds the head of it like a newborn between the palms of her hands. A farmer rattles pounds in his fist, counts his luck, passed it on to the winning bid. In a corridor there is a circle of bowed heads and five pence jumps, till the circumference is a singular. A lone man is loading up, clicks the gates on what he brought, tries not to fumble the catch. Someone whispers at an absence, shakes a head at suspicion, does a math of miles inside their head. They wait to hear the hammer fall.
I always greet red dawns with caution. Farmer’s daughter, I turn over countryside sayings like hard-boiled sweets in my mouth. The syrup long since sucked from the center, now all crunch and brittle, the shards pricking my gums in warning. No amount of scoffing, can keep my grandmother’s voice from speaking to the dawn. Soft, and familiar, chanting the same words, myth now made fact. Red mornings are both beautiful, and dangerous. We should watch for a change in the winds.
In some places the growth regulator has worked. The barley perches waist height, perfect cover for the pigeons that dive-bomb grey feathers all a flutter, deaf to the crow banger’s crack, crack, crack as they land in the elsewhere places of stems grown too tall not to loose their balance. In the shadow of the sheds there’s warmth yet, the sun is sunk but not quite set and the sky has turned to rust beyond the track where the tractors wobble outwards for one last relay before dusk can claim day. I’ve mixed two prompts tonight. DVerse Poets Pub’s challenge to write a poem about landscape while using verbs in an unusual way (I’m hoping I managed that) and today’s Daily prompt: Traditional. So here you have traditional Shropshire scenery with a twist.
April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. T.S. Eliot – The Wasteland – I. The Burial Of The Dead I love T.S Eliot. My collection of his work is currently leant out to a friend which meant I had to google this poem, but his writing is something I find myself amazed at over and over again. Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo was to take the first line of this poem and write our own about which month we think is the cruellest. At the moment I would say that April is perhaps the cruellest month. Now normally I don’t bring politics into my poems, but I thought I would give it a go today. Facing The Spring It’s an undercurrent, a muttering, a rip-tide lurking beneath the surface. This talk has been around for months. Spring brings up more than just the daffodils. This job was his life. This job his father’s life. His grandfather’s, his great father’s, those men who …
You’d complain when I hugged you straight in from the field and shedding your waterproofs darkened with rain the water still dripping from your hair and your nose red and bright as you hunted for a hankie somewhere in the multitude of pockets stuffed with bits of bailer twine, pocket knife, pens and ear tag numbers. ‘I smell like sheep,’ you’d complain, and you did. Heavy and clinging it had a way of hanging on like another layer sinking into the skin until it engrained after too many long days moving livestock field to field Foot trimmer, lamber, fleece folder, that amount of work should have seemed insane. To me it did and I think you saw it too, still see it but love it too much for anything else. We went drawing lambs at Colehurst, me knee deep in sheep while you sorted them at the top swearing at them for being difficult but telling me you ‘bloody loved your sheep’. Your sheep, not dads, not ours, god knows not mine. They …
It’s raining again and the winter barley waits for a gap in the clouds and a call to the contractors, for a time slot three weeks in the future, not soon enough. And we will watch as the gap in the clouds rolls on past us onto different fields greyness in its wake as the heads droop and the stems crumple waiting for better weather.
For once we are done. No more barely, oats or wheat left upon these fields. Once again I’m chattering on about farming, but for good reasons this time. We’ve finished harvesting before August! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a year when my family has achieved this. [We did have a lot less in the way of cereals this year which helped.] Anyway, for those of you who have hung in over the years you might remember last August when I tried and for the most part succeeded in writing a haiku each day of the month. Well I’m at it again guys! Apologies if you hate haikus. For those of you who love them feel free to join in! Prepare for the haiku tsunami!
I seem to be starting my own mini-archive and I’m blaming my father for it. Well perhaps I shouldn’t be using the word blame, I actually love how interested my father gets in things from the past, but the issue is that I seem to take this love to another level and now I seem to be using the archivist skills from one year at my university archive to put together my own personal one. Do you remember the spoon? No? Well here: If you give it a click it will take you to the relevant ramble about my childhood obsession with digging. [I thought I was an archaeologist so read that as digging with intent. I wasn’t just digging some random hole, despite what the results may look like these days.] Anyway, I’ve gone off topic just as I always do, time to get back to the inspiration for this specific post. [Originally I was going to write about St. Swinthun’s Day and things my Grandad says but then I found out that St. …
His boots were still damp in the morning when James Cullock forced his feet into them and let the dogs into the yard. The concrete was damp from rain but that wasn’t the water creeping across what was left of his pasture. He shook his head and retreated to the kitchen where the kettle boiled his wife clattered about with mugs. Greg would be there in a few hours with the trailer, reading to head north to a friend of a friend three counties up, willing to give them his spare fodder. God knows what James would do for feed when that was gone but it would keep what was left of his livestock fed for now.