Migrant Workers

 
If there are dozens there are a hundred,
frost on their boots but some bare-chested.
Not one green shoot will be wasted:
migrant workers, drifters, kindred
 
come from towns out east to stoop
to the the earth this harsh-grained Lincoln dawn,
then stretch by the road, their day's shift don,
stopping when this man says they stop.
 
This one has a Master's degree,
this one a girl in Brno and
a girl in Grimsby. His best friend
will kill a third in some skulduggery.
 
Some will not know, how you say,
names for what they pick in English,
for pleasure, tedium or anguish,
for banks of poppy, wild rose, daisy.
 
Next summer finds them here or gone
as the market or their whims dictate.
The children they have yet to meet
call here/there home in this/that tongue.
 

from A Nest on the Waves (Gallery Press, 2010), © David Wheatley 2010, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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