by John Berger

The flowers in her hair
wet in the morning
are dry by ten

Her apron clings
stones like hands
press in her pocket

the scythes will gasp
as her clothes fall down

On this slope she’ll lie
hands on its shoulder
feet on the road below

Gathered in lines
her cocks will crouch
like couples in the moonlight

Next day in the sun
she’ll walk on her hands
to get as dry as fire

Combed by the women
lifted by men
she’ll ride the carts

Front wheels locked
with a pole through their spokes
I’ll take her down

And when I pack her
second wife under my roof
my sweat will blind me.

About the Author:

Born in London in 1926, John Berger was awarded both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Booker Prize for his 1972 novel G. He is the author of many other books, including Ways of Seeing, which was made into a popular BBC series. In 2009 Berger was awarded the Golden PEN award by London PEN for a lifetime’s contribution to literature. He lives in France in the Haute-Savoie.

“Hay” was composed in the 1980s and appears in Collected Poems published by Smokestack Books in 2014.