Life Lines: Lyrics from the Garden and the Farm
by Paul Healy
Battleship Sally Set
Pig! Pig! Pig! Pigger Digger Dig!
So what have you dug, to bring forth now
Beneath wetday drips from a bent man's brow
In a lost kitchen heap in an old farm yard, where
The young sows furrow as they burrow deeper down
Chasing grubs and sucking worms and shoving stones around
To throw up Johnnie Walker bottles, Carlton Draught cans,
Rosella sauce and baked bean hulks, or a black tinned ham!
Dig. Dig. Dig. Digger Pigger Pig
Earth flung out out along the tree's earth fan with
Digger delta telling where the tunnelled siege began
At pigger whittled tips of the bark peeled clean as
Stripped roots shine with the sun's white gleam of sap
Slurped dry as pigs suck sugar from the wood unclasped
And wind their leads to willows in their fist clumped halls
With footings mined, and honeycombed, till green lords topple!
Pig Pig Pig. Pigger Digger, Dig!
Who needs diesel for the fossil fueled plough
With a little pigger digger, making garden out of spoil
While a bigger pigger digger is the old black sow
Grubbing out the stumps in the open farm fields, or
The blackberry clumps, and the rough bracken roots:
Such a slow pigger digger is our Sally in the scrub, old
Battleship Sally's like a big black tub, with snout!
Big and black and paddle steamer beamed with a bluff bowed
Bulk, yet a short sharp prow - to shovel the soil and throw aside
Whatever hides the tree roots, bracken, nesting mice, or worms!
Wide and steady and heavy and slow, not easily turned nor tossed:
With a curved blunt end on tree trunk legs and great Kauri butte thighs
As broad as thick, as wide as long: bred not for the extra bacon cuts, but hams!
Yet no butcher dared covet “Battleship Sally”: she was the brood sow boss of the farm
Both a hard man's tool and a soft soul's pet: kept to keep the good earth clean, uncut
As she cleared the fields and fed the clan with meat from the greens, and the grain.
The land was scant, the soil was thin, and the hills were lean with few flat rests, with
With a drawn days work for the cabbage, or the corn. Much time was alone as the years
Wore down, but Battleship Sally was the old man's mate: his partner, his tractor, and his plough!
There's a flock of seven guineas on the hayfield flats
Flushing out the insects in a neat beaters' row:
Five will hold the centre with a steady pace forward
While the one at either end curves behind to close an arc
Where the hoppers that have sprung are collected in their flurry
With the crickets and the grubs and the mantis on their trail;
Until the rearward taggers join the middle of the line
While another pair of flankers peel around to take a turn
As the steady line of troopers still advance across the field
And sweep up all resistance where the pasture grass is cleansed;
And whoever needs to spray, when such flocks are on their shift?
For the farmers Guards are willing, in their ever endless watch.
Gather Your Rakings
Gather your rakings while “ye may”
When the rain has blessed this ground,
For the softer falls are the clean earth gifts
And a farmer's answered prayer for the crop
While the rain wet mulch is the worm's first love
And the worms are the makers of the loam: are
Our garden workers, underground - drawing the humus
And moisture down - as the water follows their channelling mined
Beneath the beds and the folding fields where the sunlight
Warms and the rain revives, awakes the seasons sleeping seed
As the cycle turns and the days draw round with the shoots that
Furl out of the old year yellowing: from its litter spirals perpetual spring.
Their faint feathered ghosts are in the air as
The call of the cock rings round the hills. The
Charred shed sprawls towards the ground where
The netting sags in rusted waves, yet skeletons
Stand where the shade trees failed to save the hens
Where they burnt. The yard is dust, with charcoaled
Spars where the posts and crossbeams smoked, for days.
Now the green dark shoots of the reeds, return: to taunt.
Copyright: All the words, works, writings and images appearing on this site are copyright to Paul Francis Healy and may not be reproduced, passed around, reprinted, recirculated, retransmitted or republished in either print or electronic form without the written permission of the author.