Cabless Cold

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Home – Parish of Kirkgunzeon 28/3/20

The wind turned into the north when I was carting shit and ploughing. I would hardly have cared last year in the days when my tractor had a cab, but this year it is something new. There is no shelter for me me now in the high seat; nothing between me and the head of the glen at Carswadda. There’s ample space in seven miles of open country for the wind to shake off even the smallest hug of friendship.

So I cut the earth and return for another pass, back and forth relentlessly. I fall to daydreaming. I watch the cold soil boil and a gull above it. I drift further away and suddenly the tractor is bouncing on the dregs of old turnip drills and the steering wheel is jerked out of hand. It is the first time that I have thought of my extremities in almost two hours.

I look for my crabbed hand and find it dull and unfamiliar – like something hacked from a dead man and stuffed into my cuff as joke. The knuckles are old and badly pronounced as if the juice has been blown out of them. It takes some time to move my fingers, and when they come it seems like the clench is run by a system of pulleys and derricks from my shoulder; jerky and stiff like a greaseless windlass. I run around for a while in the folded turf, battering my arms against my sides and pressing the blood back into my hands. But this kind of cold gets worse before it is better, and the wind eats into my joints like rust.

A worm turns his broken length and shivers into the soil. The sun sets as if it had no axe to grind.

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