Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 1 , July 2015


The poppy pickers

Helga Jermy

  They’re bent over in fluoro like poppies soaked in rain 
  although their stalks seem much more brittle. 
  Preoccupied, in profile, they’re posed like nineteenth 
  century Millet gleaners searching for spare change. 
  The years between are a sequence of hard labour, the chain 
  linked now by cash strapped backpackers. Opium picking 
  has a nice ring about it for future storytelling though reality 
  is bruised and scratched in hot red earth with threat of snakes. 
  It’s a slow procession in furrows where once there were white petals, 
  a few red rogues in the resistant genealogy. Keep out. 
  There is something arresting about being fenced in on the wrong side 
  with public warnings. Keep out. By dusk there are spinal creak and groans, 
  and still the bark of orders. Wages relate to rates of production. 
  All rights are wrong in this image, the pastoral more postmodern.