On an evening that showed me once
how the end of August comes to sadden us,
I gathered up the fallen cones
in the corner of the yard,
in the shadow of the willow.
Then I walked as far as the thistle-field.
The stream without a ripple.
Along the track of indentations in the grass
to the place where cattle came to drink
from their reflections, and I to think.
I had questions to ask and all the answers
shook the branches of the trees,
made the hinges creak
on that old gate that locked us out, locked us in.
In the slaughterhouse lambs
were waiting, knives prepared
for the village butcher whose coup de grace
took half a minute. I remember him still,
slightly stooped, red-faced grin,
his apron like a pelt around him.
His black Wellingtons ankle-deep in entrails.