Between the Generations

This poem is a very old one, written about my son when he was 7 (he is now 23). He used to love watching the hay being cut and baled in the fields below our house, and was taken under the wing of the owner of the fields who offered him a ride on the tractor. My son was too shy to accept! I include the poem now because I was looking for one which felt right for this time of year – and of course it brings back some wonderful memories…

Between the generations there is an old bathtub
upturned to form a seat of kinds
warmed by sun and bottoms three.
One, two, three
in a row
deep in contemplation of the age.

This seat affords a view unrivalled by benches marked ‘in memory of -’.
Framed by a blue sky,
dusty air rising above the purr of the tractor as it cuts its way
below the watching three
trailing clouds of stalk and stem,
buttercup and marguerite,
cranesbill, campion, vetch.
Better entertainment far than Coronation Street.

On the left: boiler-suited Luke, plumber by trade, owner of these fields.
Farmer, too, by dint of history and a family name
that rolled off tongues the same
three hundred years ago as now.
Time-warped fields – five, six in number –
hedged by memories laced with hawthorn and elder
woven with the passing of the years.

And here is Fred, eighty if he’s a day, chewing the cud with the cows,
mulling over the wisdoms of silent intercourse
that fold the day in
and send time into tread-water stillness
marked only by the bluebottle buzz of the grasses at his feet.

Between these two, you: my golden child,
harvest of my womb and grown
seven going on seventy.
Conversing deep, in your little coven of three, on things of import:
hay, and tractors, and the best bailing twine.

© Anne de Gruchy

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