His grey hair wisping out
beneath the constant cap,
he hunches on the barstool.

Under a carapace
of half-chat and cliché—
The sun was splitting the stones.

He could make that fiddle talk
his heart is blindly casting:
his words lifebelts, dragnets…

Then home by narrow roads,
entering the yard to find
every window lightless.

The ashes piling up.
Alone mug. Scraps and crumbs.
The clock ticking, ticking.


And yet he’s at the core
of things: watching over
calving cows; setting crops;

his silage pits distilling
meadows, harvests spilling
into grain-bins. And yet…

Sometimes, at odd moments—
maybe while raising
a glass, or tending lambs,

or flicking off fag-ash—
the years flash back at him,
as fresh as yesterday:

summers that seemed free of rain;
a match about to start;
dances, airy dresses.

And, sometimes, he’s jolted
out of roused sleep: groping,
dreams fleeing the bare sheets.