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Lay for the Day
25th February


The feast day of St Walburga, an eighth-century German abbess who somehow became identified with an ancient corn goddess.
Because of the coincidence of another of her feast days, 1st May, with the pagan festival of the beginning of summer, she has lent her name to that red letter day in the witches’ calendar, Walpurgisnacht.


75. Of an Ear of Wheat

Stiff and dry like a feather
with a new-moon curve, picked up
in the stubble no gleaners
search, shaved uniformly short.

All around in the big fields
the hard light soil’s been harrowed.
The black ground over the ditch
is patched with unburnt yellow.

Pinkish-grey, industrial,
the bare fields, a half-mile long,
windswept, blank as factories.
Lights come on in the outskirts

along the A road. Angled
like river gravel, seeds are
full and sharp in this light discard,
never to be bread. A dog-

rose pink, thin and pitted moon
peers beside the hilltop town
at the cars’ conceited whine
down the medieval shoreline.

Pendulous, with winged husks ridged
like the legs of a cricket,
finely pointed, the fifty-
four grain ear forgives and gives.

 

John Gibbens
from Collected Poems
 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar



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