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Harvest

2015. Poem and site-specific installation, Fringe Art Bath Festival. Bath.

 

Head bowed, labouring with intent, 

the weekly Gardner turns the earth, 

tilling until the bed is laid redundant, superfluous.

Weeds now, your vegetable plot, onions, garlic bulbs, red poppies, 

swaying stems elongated, pale rag leaves draping down.  

 

By the bedroom window, your widow stands, distracted, watching,

the poppy petals flutter, fragile, onto the dry onion bed.

Ancient tools discarded, he walks the tilted lavender path

then at the nestled rhubarb patch he pulls a leaf.

 

And looking up, in mime, the stalk and leaf become his hat

as if to shade him from the sun, it seems.

She laughs, too loud, then sobs, turns away in haste,

jolting herself to action, some task, some distraction.

 

She smells them first, round by the kitchen door unseen,

on gravel path, gathered and bunched, onions, garlic lie.

Japanese striped and Carcassonne Wight, the chosen ones,

the last crop, the remnants from the laboured bed.      

 

And drawn, for want of seeking, your widow wanders, 

distraction wrapped and listless, eyes adrift.

Where vegetables once thrived now just four white pegs 

half buried amongst the grass and jumbled earth.

 

At once she’s there, the muddy pegs, with delicate care, 

made clean, her focus sharp, the tiny writing, clear.

She looks for secrets, love notes, things left unsaid, 

but no such keepsake, save the future wish.

 

‘Harvest when leaves die down, leave bulbs to ripen’.