What is Meant by the Land

When an old woman says it, the plot of black earth where love has unfurled like the fiery feathers of the celosia, busting wet like the pepper-bells, spilling light like the husks that hold the yellow pearls. She has cupped it in her hands like a baby, she has fed all her babies on it; they eat of its unfading colors and are unfading in their turn.

When a young man says it, the green ocean of rye and the wind in the whispering wheat and the wheat that rattles its fruit is gold like coins, the currency of dreams. Where will the young man plant his dreams and till them around the long rounds the moon makes? Everything must have a place, an incarnation, a robing in flesh and callouses.

When a young woman says it, the river that runs through it and the white waffle fence and she must hunger after the beautiful and the good. In the theatre where her hope is embodied, prancing across the stage, and she looking in, hardly daring but looking, what will be the end of it? There must be a place for vows to be kept, or else thrown away like wounded cotton socks, full of gasps.

When an old man says it, the fruit of his wrinkles and his strength. He has rusted through like the tractor that has been his wandering home. He will lay himself down in the heart of his gift to the world, and the wrapping paper, the name-tag, the tinny bow-tie will close over him. What is meant is the gift that he cannot keep from giving away.

What is meant when we two say it low to one another like a promise of homecoming is homecoming. Our eyes dim with watching are watching, all these years fixed on being the first to distinguish the white star over Tirion, or the cone of gold, 
the flurry of wings wheeling close, our long years of exile closing.

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