The Winter Harvest

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Between the blackened curbs lie stacked the harvest of the skies,
 Long lines of frozen, grimy cocks befouled by city feet;
On either side the racing throngs, the crowding cliffs, the cries,
 And ceaseless winds that eddy down to whip the iron street.

The wagons whine beneath their loads, the raw-boned horses strain;
 A hundred sullen shovels claw and heave the sodden mass–
There lifts no dust of scented moats, no cheery call of swain,
 Nor birds that pipe from border brush across the yellow grass.

No cow-bells honk from upland fields, no sunset thrushes call
 To swarthy, bare-limbed harvesters beyond the stubble roads;
But flanges grind on frosted steel, the weary snow-picks fall,
 And twisted, toiling backs are bent to pile the bitter loads.

No shouting from the intervales, no singing from the hill,
 No scent of trodden tansy weeds among the golden grain–
Only the silent, cringing forms beneath the aching chill.
 Only the hungry eyes of want in haggard cheeks of pain.

© Lloyd Roberts