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The Fallow Season

for Paul Ritchie

read by the author

These shadows moving over new-ploughed land
Prefigure a meaning which we darkly guess.
Under our feet where once the tall crop waved
The earth lies bare save for these yellow stalks
Protruding at odd angles from the furrows;
These, and a few wet leaves that flap and scurry
Along the fitful wind, are the last signs
Of the strong, swaying harvest; for
This is the quiet time, the fallow season.
Ignorant men who pass will nod their heads,
Saying: That earth is sour — and turn away
Because no lushness springs to gratify
The sense, and hold indoors, keeping a sullen
Fire, inwardly cursing the unyielding weather.

And while the white rain beats across the hills
It’s desolate enough. But you, who by
Some shrewd perversity or courage, toughen
On disappointment, will come through this
To make again. This is the quiet time.
Put down your brushes and your words,
Breathe with the earth, draw strength from solitude.