I am a field

I am a field,
flushing as the late summer sun
burnishes my golden stubble.

I don’t want your raptures,
it’s only a trick of the light.
To tell the truth, I am very tired,
and inclined to snap,
to bicker over trifles
such as breezes on bare backs,
remembering the clatter and batter
of the overnight harvester
keeping me from my rest.

What used to take
three men and a boy
two weeks of solid work
in the Indian summer sun –
days of jokes, rivalry, beer
and a ploughman’s lunch –
a peaceful slow harvesting,
like a gentle massage,
very soothing to the soul –
now brings new meaning
to phrases such as
riding rough-shod
and getting a good seeing-to.

I am a field.
Tomorrow or the next day
I will be stinking.
People passing will hold their noses,
turn their faces away from me,
as I flinch and itch
and blush with shame
for the filthy chemicals
they have sprayed on me.

Before I know it,
in the fog of October
or the frosty moonlight of November,
they will come in the night
and ravish me with their
rattling machinery again.
Three hours on the harvester,
three hours on the spreader,
three hours on the sower,
job done.

I am growing into
a clapped-out old woman;
and I am angry.
I never complained until now
but they don’t listen.
They want to wring every last ounce
out of me, keep me fertile
long past my use-by date.
No more haystacks,
no more gleaning,
no more harvest home.

I am a field.
I used to be home to flowers and bees,
I sheltered small animals,
gave delight to sunburnt farmgirls
drowsing in the buzzing noontimes
amid the chitter-chatter of birds.
I’ve had it with all of
you and your shenanigans.
I wish for the wind to get up,
to blow as hard as it can,
to scatter my sorry soil
into the atmosphere,
so nothing will grow on me,
nothing will feed you,
and you will find out
that all worlds, including yours,
come to an end.

This poem refers to the homage to Walt Whitman.