Autumn Peas

by Ilse Pedler

He was a smaller man when I saw him again,
his clothes one size too big,
his face, a pencil sketch
of the original.
 
He was pulling up withered pea plants,
desiccated pods, twisted and split
discarding wrinkled peas
on the dry autumn earth.
 
How are you coping?
We’re OK, things take longer.
It’s amazing the time you waste
in a supermarket. I had no idea.
 
I remember him throwing a straw bale over
his shoulder like a baby,
catching and upending a ewe
in one vast sweep.
 
He looked down, and the sound of his sigh
was like a puncture in a tractor tyre.
He twisted a pea stalk around and around
his finger, and then let it drop
 
and we watched as the wind lifted it
as if it were nothing and carried
it on puppet strings across the garden
until it was gone.