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The Farm Terraces

Les Murray

Beautiful merciless work

around the slopes of Earth

terraces cut by curt hoe

at the orders of hunger

or a pointing lord.

Levels eyed up to rhyme

copied from grazing animals

round the steeps of Earth,

balconies filtering water

down stage to stage of drop.

Wind-stirred colours of crop

swell between walked bunds

that recall the beast tracks,

harvests down from the top

by hands long in the earth.

Baskets of rich made soil

boosted up poor by the poor,

ladder by freestone prop

stanzas of chant-long lines

by backwrenching slog, before

money, gave food and drunk

but rip now like slatted sails

(some always did damn do)

down the abrupts of earth.


From The Rialto No 66 (Spring 2009)

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