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Tony Curtis, from folk

In Praise of Grass

My father's three brothers
were Cistercian monks
at a monastery in the hills.
We used to spend weekends there:
my mother and father
cleansing their souls
while I played in the fields.

My father's three brothers prayed
harder than anyone I knew,
for me and the repose of the souls.
I shivered when they sang plainchant
praising God's blessings,
their voices softer than girls'.
I see them still,
lined up like soldiers
against the dark —
the light dying,
the air colder than the cross.

I liked the bells that rang
all through the night.
I liked that everyone was up
and out with the light.
But what I liked best
was to watch the monks work.
When they cut the hay
or went to gather in the cattle,
they were like little bits of autumn
moving through the fields —
brown leaves blown by the wind.

God knows I was never any good
at prayer, and yet,
when a cloud passes along a hillside
or I look over an iron gate
into an empty field
I can still hear their voices
praising the grass, the snowdrop,
the leaf, the small miracle of rain.