After Thomas Hardy
The milkmaids say Pray for their speech is reserved,
fixed here in circles of opalized light.
Presenting themselves without fancy or choice
chapped hands on the full udder’s verge,
y’know — cream-skinned, gathering toad spume on skirts
relentlessly cracking the snails underfoot —
a century later & more their compeers bow heads
to these luminous fields made of ether,
of blue & extravagant air, calling up with the same
nimble fingers their ciphered familiars,
girl-souls at large in a nonhuman hour.
Speaking their argot & screen-practiced moue.
Not to you, with your paper, your man-heavy shoes,
untouched by the mulch of the digital yard!
They only gaze rapt at threshold, milk spilled.
No purchase for you here, Sir, & no clue —
Source: Poetry (December 2018)