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JON SILKIN SOME WORK Wide as a man crouching pipes sulphur a stained shore. In shelving brine opening and closing themselves jellyfish squeeze day with night: a handsful of electrics. A tuft of mountain daisy prods threads in knobby earth perching on what the plough cut past, white and untoppled. Two eyes search at the flower's. The skull caps its mind's cells, thread to thread. A brain originating declensionless. With sporadically, a twitch of arrogance, sprung in neglect; but no change in him, seen a third time. 2 Distantly, the harebell tense on one foot, clapperless, it wavers through his eyes, spurts of blue touching up intense radial blue. Seeing this much, his mind endures a feeling recension. A machine binds up crops. Some wheats, and grass-stuffs. Birds gullet spilt seed. 14 Finds its way in. Sensitively the brain ennobled by a chattering flash of muscle working, droops, reminded of labour it did and did; the spirit inch by inch its muscle cramping on bone, humiliates. Electrically tremoring, a bird shrikes in the black, nearly frozen soil its gold beak and jaw. He minds again the labourer's loth, merciful energy, that slices clay for a green-topped root. The stubborn life stubbornly tugs out, lets fall, perhaps, flashing dispersions of creatures, and braids them together in work. Another's hands turn the wheel skidding tiie machine through the brow's rim, this field bulging with the hill's shape. This shape, their work taking it in. Each of us one fibre in what he braids. Feels an aged stained clay skin rankling its flesh on us; a tithe of succour from us gets offered. The light hesitating deliberateness from old fingers, its hand, stained. One might give a tenth of a tenth of one; the act squats in me: Do that again, it says. Yes, the flesh repeats clearly, I will. Hands, the hands. Salted grease on the wheel held still whatever that protrusion, stone, lump, gnarl of root, frail skull 15 he hits, slurring over. Dragging the hissing plough about from the hill's jagged crown into the rejoicing bedded broad stretch of loam foliating spiked oats. The work, though, the hand: Have done, it cries, jogging the hoe; finish up WILLIAM MEISSNER THREE TRANSLATIONS FROM AN OLD FARMER'S PHOTOGRAPH 1 Here on my desk, the farmer no longer wonders how much morning could stream into his eyes. Or about his mouth: a dark stone well that has swallowed for the last time. His stare was frozen as it bounced along the hill toward the windmill. Now his eyes are hollow, they listen for a hush of dry wind scratching across a paper sky. 2 Fog swarms down the hill like an army of pale flies. 16 ...


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