Summer climbs the mountains.
Flowers overcolour and blanch.
Men leave the sun and sit,
tree-tented, by the cold creek.
Horses bray, each apart
in the warm air, and the long grass
whiffles in a lime plain.
Hushed and still, the horseherd stand
in wither-high water; and wave
the flies away with silk-swish tails;
and colts clatter the air,
rippling the quiet, and lifted eyes.
Geese hoot through certain blue.
Ducks slip past, water-brushing.
Girls frame the tents, their
soft voices melting in the heat.
The boss rides back from his sheep,
smiling through tent-town,
clopping with warm slow time,
his hat a tilted effect.
And old-timers suck round
the milk-hooch bag, their
say-again stories fired
in their laugh-again eyes.
The stewmeat steams.
A boy tugs his mother’s spoon.
The bosses sit in a curl of time
on light-swirled carpets
under a languid tilt
and suck their tea and talk and talk
in mannered turn. A rheumy old grouch
shouts at the shepherd’s dust,
one ear on his own brave show.
No other ear hears more than heat
and quiet: and talk runs on,
creek-like, with the creek.
The herdsmen, strutting-young,
rock coolly in their saddles, parading back
from night-time grazing, dressed
to see, and riding twice their blood.
Way past the tents in the softened heat
the boss’s son casts falcons
with his friends. Their horses mouth
the close, bright air. The bird
drills up along the sky
and nails a heat-blown goose.
And the rheumy old grouch,
coughing in the shepherds’ dust,
stares, unwatched, and hot with sadness
that his glory is all gone.
About this poem
This poem, representing Kazakhstan, is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.