The Barn

I stopped in the barn’s wide entrance,
where the dust and chaff were like bees.
With the light behind me, and my rake across my shoulder,
I knew I resembled the Harvest as often portrayed.

“Bees” is what we used to call
all kinds of insects then,
and bees were in my mind as I crossed
the floor to where he’d fallen.

I’d never known him dead before
and therefore did not see him straightaway
but thought he was a sack,
with a barrow standing nearby ready to move him.

And move him I did,
though first I stood on that earthen floor
for a hundred years, while the language changed around me.
Dust. Chaff. The names of common things.
My hand moving up to touch my tightening cheeks,
to pick the pieces of broken bees from them.

from The Classical Farm (Bloodaxe, 1987), © Peter Didsbury 1987, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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