Elaine Feeney – The Harvest


There is nothing in the old Tuam beet factory only a greasy
fluthering of  Natterer’s bats and some gnawing weasels.

Once the full silos were emptied out, gathering began again
to bring in the next harvest, pregnant on a town promise of
those who plucked her beets from well-drained ground.

Bring your harvest to the side-door, ring the bell, check them in.

Throw away the bruised, pay the grower for the clean ones, pay the grower
for the fresh ones, for the ripe ones, give extra for pretty ones, weigh them.

Tip them to piles making little beet hillocks, line them straight, singular,
inspecting with an old blackthorn stick, poke them, extract precious stone,
and sift the gravel, not for consumption. Burn the bitter, slash beets to cosettes.

Extract the unneeded, the inedible.

Cast them away over the ditch or take them to the pit in the dark of night,
move across the concrete slab, open it, side-step the weasels.
Mind your ankle flesh. They’ll eat the rabbits and the sugar and
god knows what, sitting on the slab spread-eagled and salivate.

It’s rumoured they’ll hunt you down out the Weir Road after your
matins, and midnight masses, naked of your cassocks, and rip the
cornea from your eyes, then feast on you.

They’ll even come after your soul. And chew it. Refuse to release it.
Don’t interrupt their funerals, they’ll pull the skin from your hide and salt
all belonging to you, kneecapping’s and featherings as they cast a weasel spell.

Close over the concrete slab, quickly, blank your thoughts, bless yourself.

Don’t look at the small skulls
Don’t check if the hair is still growing
Don’t take a deep breath. Do not breathe.