I won’t pass judgement on those hands.
For a start, they knew work.
Opening and closing the sprung blades of shears,
hefting escaped ewes over fences.
He was driving, but I saw the tendons ping;
I saw him in a hot shed, head down,
sweat trailing across a wool-grease floor,
back pen-knifed to flick back the pen gate –
– aiming for the big tally again today –
plunging a crowbar into frosted ground,
stopping only to say: she’s cold today, mate.
Yet here he was, up a winding river path,
a good bugger, voice as gentle as the wind