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?