Winchester Trilogy II

Second post in the Winchester series for you…


II       Golden Grain

Grown from the ground,
From earth’s chalk & clay, grime & gravel,
Tight-folded granules of wheat—
The poor man’s gold—
Is grist to the mill.

Dusty with lowly soil
It bulges in shadowed sacks,
Dull & lifeless as ash
Until from the dry-store it’s poured
Rattling, scuttling down the hopper:

Nuggets crushed between grey jaws,
Between the furrowed grit-stones.
They utter no sound but the low, low groan
Of stone on stone as gold-dust
Turns soft as silk:

Brighter than chalk or silver,
Whiter than milk or light.

And flour blooms on the mill-house floor.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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Summer on the South Downs

We’re about to set out on more summer walks along the ridge of the South Downs Way – probably in the rain! Today, though, the sun is baking most of southern England.



Before these fields turn yellow as a Van Gogh reverie,
Before those rooks descend and cast
Dark shadows squawking on the grain,
Stand here & watch the meadows grow:
The longed-for greening of the naked ground.

Before the harvester rolls down with sharpened shears,
See arrowed spears dart up—
Fescue & timothy in chalk & loam;
See blade tips bristle, soft as painters’ brushes,
A watercolour haze on fallow-field horizons:
Tufted, wafted, wavy in the mill-wheel of the wind;
Brush-stroked with milky strands of corn-silk,
Sap-streaked, gingered with bees, rain-washed—
A veil of sprouts & stalks (& later seed-heads)
Rising, cresting in a tide, a sea of green.

And afterwards, look! Grasses are studded
With thistle & poppy, spectrum-ends flashing
Violet, scarlet in the blaze of August’s arc-lamp:
Pixel-thin stems stripe an Impressionist landscape,
Luminous with absinthe light on grasslands’ stretching canvas.

© Lizzie Ballagher

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