What is Meant by the Land

When an old woman says it, the plot of black earth
    where love has unfurled
like the fiery feathers of the celosia, busting wet like
        the pepper-bells,
spilling light like the husks that hold the yellow pearls.
She has cupped it in her hands like a baby, she has fed
        all her babies on it;
they eat of its unfading colors and are unfading in their
        turn.

When a young man says it, the green ocean of rye and
        the wind
in the whispering wheat and the wheat that rattles its
        fruit is gold like coins,
the currency of dreams. Where will the young man plant
        his dreams
and till them around the long rounds the moon makes?
        Everything
must have a place, an incarnation, a robing in flesh and
        callouses.

When a young woman says it, the river that runs through
        it and the white
waffle fence and she must hunger after the beautiful and
        the good. In the
theatre where her hope is embodied, prancing across the
        stage, and she looking in,
hardly daring but looking, what will be the end of it? There
        must be a place for vows
to be kept, or else thrown away like wounded cotton socks,
        full of gasps.

When an old man says it, the fruit of his wrinkles and his
        strength.
He has rusted through like the tractor that has been his wandering
        home.
He will lay himself down in the heart of his gift to the world,
and the wrapping paper, the name-tag, the tinny bow-tie will
        close over him.
What is meant is the gift that he cannot keep from giving away.

What is meant when we two say it low to one another like a
        promise of homecoming
is homecoming. Our eyes dim with watching are watching, all
        these years fixed
on being the first to distinguish the white star over Tirion, or
        the cone of gold,

the flurry of wings wheeling close, our long years of exile closing.

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