The reaping machine whirred and chugged

in ever-decreasing circles

round the last patch of standing corn.


Sweating village women

in cotton overalls and gumboots

stooked the cut wheat.


Men in leather leggings

tied at the knees with string

waited, holding cudgels.


We kept a pet rabbit at school;

I’d feed him with lettuce leaves;

he liked to nibble bits of carrot.


Now, thwack went the stout sticks

as small terrified animals

ran in all directions.


On the bloodied stubble

tiny furry corpses

lay staring at the sun.


~ Joan Condon. ©