The stone stroked the scythe creating a plaintive tune
As the cutting edge was smoothed into sharpness.
The first strokes were bold and vertical in arc
With the scythe held over the left shoulder;
The last few were smooth and precise
While the blade lay along the forearm.
The edge was tested by a lateral movement of the thumb
And judged to be good by an acquired skill,
Where sensation and knowledge need no conscious thought.
The mower turned towards the distant sea,
With the dark green sward on his right
And the rows of cut grass in parallel patterns on his left.
The stubble between the rows was pale from lack of sun
With two narrow lines of trampled grass where his feet had passed.
Above him was the blue sky of August and on his back the heat of the sun.
About him was the hum of bees.
Nearby a nervous corncrake harshly sang her relentless summer song,
While the surf drummed a low and urgent rhythm at the very edge of hearing.
He swung the blade through the brittle stems
And filled the air with the perfume of cut grass.
The scythe sang its way through its rhythmic task
With a balance which required no direction or force.
The man, the field, the grass, the blade, the sky,
The bees, the birds, the waves, the wind, the world,
All joined to sing a song to farming skills;
A song of bone and sinew, nerve and muscle,
Of sound and smell and touch and earth and air.