Agriculture 23

To stand in a barn’s soft light, sniff its 
rich, grainy smell, the paraphernalia 
of rural toil about one, is to be 
at the most open as to spiritual 
chances — which these days perhaps isn’t 
to say a great deal: the ‘personal 
identity remains intact’ afterlife 
options having become an excessive 
stretch: but if what that leaves mainly is 
some sort of cosmic oneness, no better 
place for feeling such than a structure 
which represents, as matter of simple 
fact and season-to-season reality, 
the human within the natural world. 

Agriculture 24

Near the end of the birth the mare takes an 
odd little rest. But any impulse to 
help should be resisted as the ‘rest’ is 
actually maternal instinct, a pause to 
allow the foal some final sustenance 
via the umbilical cord. Though since the 
reason the foal is about to need all 
strength and stamina is that when the mare 
does eventually stand up, breaking the 
cord, before the foal can transition to 
mother’s milk it has to complete the 
gruelling steeplechase of getting to its 
own feet, even more instinct might have 
been shown by the mare lying down again. 


David Beach lives in Wellington. He has written two books of sonnets, Abandoned Novel and The End of Atlantic City, the first of which won the 2008 Prize in Modern Letters. He has ventured on agriculture as subject matter despite being a confirmed urban dweller and someone always quick to call a spade an implement to be avoided.