There is a stillness about this morning
That makes all movement foreign; the rattle
Of harness clanks into panic
And ploughs normally tied to the clay
Rear and prance above the furrow.
It has been like this for days,
The air, dry and electrified,
And rain, not usually a threat, advances
Yard by yard, honing the slopes
At the end of the valley.
Beyond the rolling hills thunder shunts
Earth to sky, and only above the white cliff
There appears the smallest opening.
Winds rail at stagnation
As some clouds fold inwardly.
Others spread themselves across a smothered sun.
From this darkness Eric visits me from Kent –
Brings the usual tales of violence,
His clothes smelling, not unpleasantly, of smoke
He describes the special burnings.
Apparently there was defiance
And courage in the flames. He complains
Bitterly. Their lack of cowardice
Affects him, makes his once ageless eyes
Flicker at my wood fire as he walks
Stiffly now, his legs heavy pendulums;
The slight pause at the end of each step,
He does not regard as interruption –
And his fingers cannot stop the tremble,
Wrapped around my offering of bread.
He accepts hot tea in a chipped mug,
Turns the crack towards me, then twists
His knees towards my hearth’s warmth.
Instability, he says, stops the sowing
Of his fields, destroys all hope
Of September’s harvest.