Droighneach II: Harvest

High summer heat. Out here, the pressure’s palpable.
Sun-shimmer on the wheat, and yet we’re worrying
About the weather, praying it’s possible,
To keep running hell-for-leather with harvesting.

The tractors creep beside combines crawling ceaselessly.
Night brings no sleep for now; we’re hauling heavyweight
Trailers gorged with golden grain, and checking constantly
For news of rain; the threat we don’t care to contemplate.

Days drag, dredged in dust and diesel fumes. We’re wondering
If we’ve edged ahead. The work consumes us utterly.
From dawn to dew the big rigs roll through, thundering
Scorn at forecasts and fatigue. The heat builds brutally.

One last load. Black battlements brood high overhead.
On the road, racing back beneath a sky suspended
Like an executioner’s axe; throbbing thunderheads
Prepare to strike. The first cracks come. Dark, distended

Clouds tear open; an electric ecstasy
Ignites the bristling air too late: the storm’s defeated –
The fields stand silent; tyre-tracks the only legacy
We’ve left. The land exhales. Another crop completed.

 
 

I’m not going to let the droighneach beat me. Still tricky as all hell, but at least I managed five stanzas this time! My admiration for Tom and Ina, who’ve got this thing well and truly nailed, knows no bounds. Wishing you all a splendid weekend. N.

After the storm

Blown out

The woods are full
Of the concert hall’s
Sunday-morning silence.

Should have been here last night
When a great Beethoven gale
Made the whole world its instrument:

Only the soft southern fringe
Of the heavyweight hooley
Making trouble over the border

But still a thug,
Broad-shouldered, big-muscled,
Coming in hard with boots and fists:

Snapping off branches like a thoughtless child
And setting the chain-link fencing
Shrieking like a girl.

A proper wind that draws
Half a hemisphere into its lungs
Then rips the hat right off my head,

Shrink-wraps me in my coat,
Turns strolling around the field
To wading thigh-deep through the sea.

I walk among the dazed and breathless trees
Shocked at their shattered limbs
But smiling –

As any woodwind player should –
At seeing the world refashioned
By the moving of the air.

Hurricane Katia

Someone else’s storm

The oak is full of surf-sounds.
The poplars hiss and twist
Branches bent like umbrellas
Blown inside-out.
Twigs, leaves, small branches litter
The verge and gutter,
Pigeons hurtle over the wood
Like artillery shells:
Even the drowsy river
Is stippled and disturbed,
Raked by cat’s-paws.
Clouds big as counties
Shutter the sun, sending shadows
Running like hounds over the plough
And under it all
A deep-drone fugue
For Aeolian harp
Played on gates and power lines.
The land shakes, waits,
Wondering what will break upon it
As force and fury tear across
Three thousand miles of ocean.
And here we are
Caught up again
In someone else’s storm.

Stormy weather

Donner und Blitzen

All day
It’s been building up to this.
Now impatient Lightning,
Weary of waiting,
Runs on ahead
A million miles
While the lumbering laggard Thunder
Is still lacing up his boots.

You can try
To drown out the old tales
With talk of vapour, latent heat
Charged particles and ions;
Facts and equations all laid out
In quick, brilliant strokes
Across a blackboard sky.

But when the stuffed and swollen night
Bursts and splits
Zeus still rages round his realm;
Jupiter hurls the blazing bolts
That Vulcan forged for him;
Red-bearded Thor takes another ride
Swinging Mjöllnir in one mighty fist
Smiting the Jotun at Asgard’s gates and
Warming the earth
With sparks struck from the mountain-tops.
And God decides the sofa
Would look better over there.