Harvey poplars

Where all of what was there
Is redacted to pasture and ditches,
Orchards and dairies. Cows
Omnipresent but without
Domain, heavy to drag
The eternal calf in the udder,
Or torment the fated poddy
Bellowing in its lone stall.
Morning and evening light
Dappled and brindled by cows
Drained to refill, great bulls
Double-fenced and out of sight,
Though voices carry clearly
Across the plain; there are
So many body aches and pains.
And alongside driveways
Of barren redbrick mansions,
Those poplars planted in the '50s,
The 'weed trees' denoting
'Home', suckers reaching out
Until beheaded. In summer
Heat, thin shadows thread
Lines of cows, burning
Outside the eye of needle.
And birds perch, sometimes
In season's precinct, within
Its purlieus, they nest. Poplars
Making best of the utility
Behind their planting. And
In blank winters of dark
Mornings and dark afternoons,
Poplar-spindles twine southerlies,
Coil fences to their centres.
Such leafless praise; maypoles
In July. Somewhere in their
Origins, poplars expect
Separation of milk and cream,
Vats of profit and tithes.
Each cow lugs its haul past
Poplars' thin forest marking
Shortest distance between
Animal and vegetable lives.

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