Sugar beet harvesting – one day in three photographs
Six miles, again, we’ll go today,
for honour built on broken blades.
We’ll tame these meres; skate far and fast,
with hopes that winter, long may last.
For cold that creeps and freezes fen
brings out the Runners once again.
In tests of wit and skill and speed
on crystal lakes, still wreathed with weeds.
Contracted muscles, chests pulled tight,
like frightened birds, we take to flight.
Sinews screaming, taut like wire,
in every eye, a glint of fire.
On flooded fen, we carve our names
as brackish blood runs through our veins.
The lure of wealth may spur some forth –
we skate for love and all we’re worth.
This subtle smoothness, ice unspoiled,
a canvas stretched o’er sunken soil.
To skate the marsh is to be free:
‘These Fenmen do not run; they flee!’