Light fades slowly in the long evenings of May and June
here in the north. The eyes adjust
and when I straighten up from a seedbed
I can still make out the darker shapes of the swifts
against an archipelago of clouds
and the outline of a thrush
singing from the top branch of a plum tree.

I feel the stiffness and the aching satisfaction of tasks.
I put the tools away
while I can still see the path to the outhouse.
Indoors, I switch on the light
and begin to wash off the stains of earth and calomel dust.
The thrush calls out and I look from the window
on to an incomprehensible darkness.

I stare until I see the deeper mass
of apple trees and plum trees
and the boundary wall,
black shapes with nothing in between them
except the glint of glass in the greenhouse
and my reflection out there
waiting like another self at ease in the night.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 2 Number 10, on page 44
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