It is dark at eight o’clock, the darkness a sacrament
of incipient autumn of rain and mud, but for the moment, not yet.
Going to the fields holds back the cold.
Shins scratched with stubble and arms clawmarked by sheaves,
immersed in Dettol-dosed water, sting in the raw bathroom light.
The same faces each year, securely familiar; as fresh now
as at twilight of that August labouring.
A timelessness now embraces the harvesting,
for who is to say “Which year?” or “Who was there?”
Who can police memories? It is my story, “Keep out!”
My story is untrue.
Standing in the low-ceilinged hall, while you sit at the fireside.
watching “The Sky at Night” on the black and white television
in the quietness of a late summer evening.
I am incidental, never standing there,
as you pondered the cosmos enclosing your harvest,
or your harvest enclosing the cosmos,
in life and death and life, expressing, in one sheaf,
the reality of August.