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Fodder Beet by Karen Lockney

As usual, sheep graze in the field,
it’s one of those countryside scenes
that we suppose to be English,
but something’s not right, nothing is green.
Just a restricted palette, ruddy earth,
dusty soil rubbing off on the shelf,
drills drawing the eye to the horizon
like in the distance of a masterpiece
from the Low Countries, or in some other
hinterland of the imagination,
where interest is off stage, easily missed.

This is a winter crop, fodder beet,
mangolds left for the sheep to eat
from the ground, or they’re clamped,
sold on, wait in dark barns
to be fed to cattle, while you lie awake
in the small hours and can’t find the good in anything.