Promises

The little people used the land, and time and time again
It gave them all they needed all year ‘round
With life that came from sunshine and the cool refreshing rain,
Sustaining them from rich and fertile ground.

Their life went on for generations, father to the son,
Secure and settled, family life was good.
They traded with the produce that by hard work they had won
And each one knew exactly where he stood.

But then there came the big men who with force would show their hand,
As eager for a dollar as a start;
They didn’t want to scratch the fertile surface of the land
But rather, would tear out its very heart.

“And all the best technology should keep the impact small,
A few years’ mining only for a while;
And when we’ve dredged our riches we’ll be leaving after all.”
Said with a sickly condescending smile.

But what if all their cleverness and technical advice
Can not preserve the goodness of the land?
What if the unknown vagaries should roll the fateful dice
In some direction they don’t understand?

The miners have the dollars and the farmers have the risk.
And what if poisoned water should be left?
Would there be a cold stone monument, a stone-dead obelisk,
Which, like the farmland, would be life bereft?

And what might then be offered to restore the family farm,
To compensate for all the damage done?
How can it be corrected, all that so long-lasting harm?
Perhaps restored for a great-grandson’s son.

A promise is not good enough when only based on hope;
No certainty of what the final cost.
When his worst fears are realised, how does the farmer cope?
“We’re sorry sir, we got it wrong. You lost.”

© Tom Chapman 2014