We’d be told, “If you don’t behave
There’ll be nothing in your Christmas stocking for you
But an old kale stalk.” And we would believe him.
But if kale meant admonition, a harrow-pin
Was correction’s veriest unit.
Head-banged spike, forged fang, a true dead ringer
Out of a harder time, it was a stake
He’d drive through aspiration and pretence
For our instruction.
Let there once be any talk of decoration,
A shelf for knick-knacks, a picture-hook or -rail,
And the retort was instant: “Drive a harrow-pin.”
Brute-forced, rusted, haphazardly set pins
From harrows wrecked by horse-power over stones
Lodged in the stable wall and on them hung
Horses’ collars lined with sweat-veined ticking,
Old cobwebbed reins and hames and eye-patched winkers,
The tackle of the mighty, simple dead.