Winter Westerlies

                                   by James Devaney

Leaning against the wind across the paddock ways
Comes Dan home with forward stoop like a man bent and old,
Clashes the door in haste as one pursued: 'By Christ it's cold!'
And crooks his fingers to the blaze.

We do not live these days, but each exhausting day
Unnerved we numbly wait return of life, and must abide
The wind, the still beleaguering wind; all voices else outside
Imperiously it has blown away.

Over the bronze-brown paddocks the grass is bowed flat down;
Along the birdless creek a cold malevolence has passed;
A forlorn sparrow clings on the fence against the icy blast,
His soft breast feathers loosely blown.

We watch the saplings buffeted without repose,
Their foliage all on one side, plunging without rest,
Stems leaning all one way from the assailing west,
Bending as backs cower from blows.

The hunched cattle no longer feeding dejected stand
With dumb endurance, tails to the flogging wind hour after hour;
From some far frozen hell of winds a blind and soulless power
Invades and harries all the land.

The wind!  The wind! It fumbles at the fastened panes,
Fills and possesses all, a tyranny without control;
Ceaseless, changeless, malign, searching into the very soul
The rushing desolation reigns.

James Devaney, 1950

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