Bitter Harvest

The big farm girl with the dumb prophetic body

And shoulders plump and white as a skinned peach

Goes singing through the propped-up apple boughs.


Behind her steps an ancient Jersey cow

With bones like tent-poles and udder swinging.


And last a hairy boy who with a fishing-pole

Drives youth and age before him, flanked by boulders

More yielding than his love. O bitter harvest


When drought affirms and plenitude denies!

Well, let them pass. Assuredly the boy

Will drop his worm into a dusty hole


And fish up … death, and the ancient cow

On which so much depends will clear the moon.


By Alistair Te Ariki Campbell