Hay

Hay

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audio of John Beaton's poem, Hay

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Hay

In communal harvest, I swing my scythe smoothly
from hay-swathe to hay-swathe. The village-wave washes
the crofts of the valley. You hay-wade here blithely.
As commonfolk harvest, I swing my scythe smoothly.
You bend as you winnow out weeds, pulling lithely.
My scythe-blade is silver; it limberly swishes.
In communal harvest, I swing each sweep smoothly
from hay-swathe to hay-swathe. The village-wave washes. 

You work with the women. You do not look my way.
Bent caillachs bring cloths full of crowdie and oatcake. 
I cast my glance your way to see what your eyes say—
you work with the women, you do not look my way.
Back bending, breasts cradled, your smile glimmers shyly.
They hope you have learned all the weeds that make cows sick,
the women you work with. I see them look my way,
the caillachs with cloths full of crowdie and oatcake. 

I know you are longing for my eyes to meet yours. 
Last night we awaited the cusp of the gloaming
to slip from our houses and make for the peat moors;
we knew we were longing for my lips to meet yours. 
We followed the burn-side and swayed with its detours
then gazed on the sea-waves, their silver light gleaming
and lingered in longing as my fingers clasped yours
last night when we crested the cusp of the gloaming. 

As deep as the bedrock our hearts beat together;
the soughing breeze laved us in night-breath communion.
The old sheep enclosure of dry-stone and heather
delivered the bed where our hearts beat together,
a haunting cathedralled tattoo through the machair.
A sod seat for shearing was bed for our union—
there, deep as the bedrock our hearts beat together
as breeze's sighs laved us in night-breath communion. 

You work here so close to my whet-stoned edge melting
the thistledown hay. Our secret is soul-bound
and yet there's deep slicing, and yet there's sad lilting
as we work so closely, my whet-stoned edge melting
the soft-falling sheaves. I saw your eyes misting
in trust and in tryst on the high folding hill-ground.
You work there so close to my whet-stoned edge melting
the thistledown hay. Our secret is soul-bound.