Threshing Day

Then came August, I recall, and
Bromley Wood, a snuggled hamlet
dozed in the stifling warm.

By faraway Birchwood a bird-scarer
rent the languid teatime hum
with a brusque report

and nearer, the indignant crow
patrolled the mossy cottage roof
excavating grubs with a twig.

On the verge, idle now, stood
the old threshing machine
blanched from livid scarlet

to dusty, peeling pink
the steady meter of rod, shaft
and crank, dwindled to silence

now home to the swift
gathering sustenance, force
for the looming southward hegira.

Rain arrived in fat, fragrant
smudges, which the beaten earth
absorbed like blotting paper

a sudden interjection
a jerk of the shoulder
prompting the question…

What would the threshers say
their brawny arms etched by straw
backs bent under the heavy stook

like so much tribute at Ceres’ altar
long-since dispersed like chaff
on a century of summer breezes?

What would they think of us today
this threshing day? Do they know
the thing we have become?

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17 thoughts on “Threshing Day

  1. Stunning poetry! I love your descriptions of the rain and of the faded machinery, and any reference to mythology will catch my eye. The final question takes it that much further. I’ve often wondered the same myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks again, Millie.

      There was a retired teacher, a Miss Smith, who lived in one of the cottages in this hamlet. She had travelled extensively to places like Samarkand and Kashgar, at a time when people didn’t do that sort of thing. I loved popping in to hear her stories, not to mention sampling her delicious home-made chocolates.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It certainly was unusual for any ‘ordinary’ people (other than the upper classes and military) to travel anywhere abroad in those days, Julian, let alone such exotic places as you mention. I can well imagine her home-made chocolates drawing you back very often! I can’t think of many youngsters who could resist those!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve re-read this poem nearly a dozen times thus far, it is so chock full of beautiful language and images, such a lovingly detailed microcosm encompassing time’s passage (and with additional thought as to our progress or lack thereof). May Ceres smile down upon you so that your field of poems continues to grow. ~ Peri

    Liked by 1 person

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