A common theme in time for Halloween, producing one flash, Strawberry Patch, and one poem, Harvest, both new, both free to read.
Jack’s field contains many tumours, globes twined together across the soil, eyes and mouths already carved. He makes no distinction, cultivating black, brown and white alike. Orange is left for the front-of-house, where the children run and weave between the rows, parents dashing after them, their laughter piercing the night. Orange, however, soon gives way to black and his trap snaps shut, trip wires revealing holes dug ready for their planting, lined with steel-veined bindweed whose tendrils hold them tight.
This field has its own customers. When the moon is full, they climb down from their guard posts across the countryside and march towards it. The men of straw browse the rows of the latest merchandise, seeking the fresh and the new, the face they will take for another year.
“This one,” points a customer.
“Good choice,” says Jack, and swings his scythe. “The changing room is over there,” he adds, nodding towards the barn. “You know the way.”
The customer rustles over to the building where Jack’s wife removes the old head, replaces it with the new.
They stand side-by-side and gaze into an old mirror, nodding their approval. Then the customer disappears into the dark, stands back against his post and raises his new face for all the world to see. Others make a similar purchase until Jack glances up and sees the clouds drifting across the moon, the grey light of dawn rising.
“Time to sleep, love,” he says to his wife.
“We had a good night,” she replies. “I’ve counted the takings.” She nods at the pile of discarded heads, shrivelled gourds, last year’s model.
In the field, blankets of straw cover the harvested crop, a strawberry patch for another time.