Helpston c. 1820
With their golden notebooks
they stop to watch him carting hay;
the embossed enclosures
of the carriages they step from
wait to bear them home.
They’ll celebrate the dignity of labour
from safe seats, the prospects
they return to, stable their horses,
hear the harness loosed and jingling
like coins of the realm.
It will have been a profitable day
to do nothing about it, besides
what is there to be done?
Conscience sleeps in the sun,
the poor being always with us.
He watches the future drive off
in its shining hatch-backs
down Heritage Lane
then, seized by love and anger,
takes up his pen to write.
From The Rialto No 66 (Spring 2009)