The land was voluptuous.
I’ve seen it roll towards me full-bodied.
Taking its time.
Until with a turn of its ankle it lay on its front.
If it had time to turn over completely,
even if you couldn’t tell, you could safely say
that the road ran between the hills and the coast.
If it didn’t have the space to roll fully
but only rose and fell, sometimes making a
twitching movement, then you were crossing it,
and it was the land that was between the road
and the sea.
The farm was land of this second type.
Starting at the sea it carried on under the road.
It rose and fell until it suddenly dipped and
dropped away into a gully full of bush.
Walking the farm wasn’t the same.
Nothing was ever still.
You caught the fields in the middle.
You were always catching up with them,
with the movement of the land up or down.
And the gullies were so far off it was hard to
believe these gentle undulations were not endless.
So was the coast far off.
It was the line of weather
passing in a distant parade.
Walking the farm we did together.
But there was one field I knew of
I went to on my own.
I went alone not to be alone
but because there was somebody else there.
And I was called.
Sitting in the bath, the steam escaping
out through the open window, I listened.
I never took her anything.
We never really did anything.
But she allowed me to see her.
And I’d go back every day.
I’d go back now if I could.
It was a field that went down.
It rose and fell.
At its deepest you were cut off from view.
And here there was a spring.
She met me.
And although I was always so happy to see her,
so happy my teeth hurt,
I was also unspeakably sad.
It was the sadness that brought me back on every
visit to the farm.
To the field with the spring.
I couldn’t say that she was waiting.
Sometimes the steers had churned up the mud.
And I’d get to the bottom of the field
without knowing if she’d be there.
But she’d come.
And when she did what I felt was
the opposite of relief.
There was neither looking forward,
nor looking back.
It was the heart.
It was right in the middle.
I’d hear her.
I’d hear her across the world.
We’d pull up and maybe a day later I’d go.
I’d put it off.
As if I couldn’t bear to see her.
I’d put if off longer and longer
as the years passed.
Because I couldn’t bear
the feelings that came with seeing her.
And year by year as my recall grew stronger
I could picture exactly
what it would be like to see her.
I could summon up the feelings, my feelings,
in places far away.
And at a safe distance.
I’d listen where I should not have.
I used to run.
And for several seasons
when we visited the farm
I’d run across the fields.
Then on the second or the third day
whether or not I’d heard her, I’d go.
And it wasn’t that the place was beautiful.
The land, the field or the spring.
And that’s how I knew that she was real
and what gave rise to both a happiness
so great it hurt and to a sadness so deep
after seeing her I took it everywhere with me.
She was the beauty.
On one of my final runs,
I’d made a circuit of the fields,
there was a black line of weather
on the far-off coast.
And I thought I’d try and find
the field with the spring.
But I couldn’t.
The rain chased me back to the house.
I asked Robert where it might have gone.
But he said there were never any springs
near the place I was describing.
He offered to help me find it
when we walked the farm tomorrow.
‘No thanks,’ I said.
‘I must’ve been wrong.’
What I didn’t say was,
I might’ve been mistaken about where it was.
I must’ve, because I never found it again.
But there was no mistaking what it was.
Or what she gave me, love.