What use is this ritual, held
on a circular meadow
with men arranged in clusters, some
almost out of earshot? They
all wear cream flannel trousers:
perhaps they’re hospital
orderlies, or homosexuals.
A group of them lie on the grass,
and one is scribbling notes
on sheets of green paper. Another
climbs to his feet, then stoops
down beneath the railings — his brow
inscribed with innocent hope
reminds me of our priests, inviting
God’s assistance with the harvest.
He cradles a wooden object
in his arms, that’s a sculpted
delicate wedge shape which seems
to me quite useless as a tool.
Blue laminex sky, where clouds
unreel like bolts of flannel.
Air so still the noises made
by birds echo in a vacant
corridor. Now, that man
attempts to dig a furrow
with his unsuitable implement —
someone rushes at him
and swings both arms like the arms
of a metronome. And he leaves the trench
unfinished: when he reaches
the place he set out from, his
expression is utterly changed,
the face of a man returned
from a long and serious journey,
returned to a punitive silence.
© Jamie Grant