Poetry – I am the master miller

I am the master miller

In come the sacks of wheat,

Each grain a sealed globe

Of locked up mystery,

A richness of nutrition

Sealed within its protective case –

It’s cover.

The seed tumbles through my machine

In unseemly haste,

In hundreds of thousands,

As I slowly grind.

Harnessing the energy of nature

To turn my sails,

Working with nature

In the natural way,

For that is the art of the miller.

I break the case asunder

To release the wondrous essence.

It is now free

To dance with new joy

And give life.

There is deftness in my art

As I deploy my tools,

For I must keep up

With the flow of seeds

And never fall behind.

I separate the chaff

From the vital essence

And am happy,


Within my work.

The sacks of seeds arrive

In great number

And I transform them

From potential into realisation –

A stream of purity.

For months I toil

Lost in the beauty of the slow art,

As the seeds arrive,

The sails turn,

The cogs engage,

And I am one with the process;

Losing myself in fulfilment

That stems

From the moment it connects –

A timeless balance

All of its own –

That I am of.

I am the master miller.

Waking from the thrall

I look behind

At the sacks of raw flour

I have gleaned,

With a glow of satisfaction.

The fineness of the flour

Is the evidence of my craft –

I run the fine white powder through my fingers.

This is what my hands have made

When I merge myself as one

With the process,

In harmony with the wind,

The wood, the stone and seed.

I transform the rough grain

Into this delicate stream of wonder

And it fills me with fire.

Back home I take the pure potential

And adulterate it with water, sugar, oil and yeast.

I knead and leave to stand.

I place it in the oven

But it is burnt or full of holes.

For I am no master baker.

My fayre is passable at best.

All the beauty of my skill is spoiled

And returns to mock me.

Ideas arrive into my mind

As ephemeral bubbles

That I must catch between the millstones

Of my imagination

So that their essence is released

To trickle out in words.

Those words

Endlessly streaming through my fingers

Across the page

Now need the master baker’s hand

To enable them to rise,

And the heat to do its work;

To release the full flavour they contain

Lest they read as run of the mill.

Every master miller is in search of the master baker

In order to perfect their craft together.

Neither one can produce excellence alone.

Opher 23.10.2016

I am the master miller

A writer works alone but cannot complete their task alone. It requires community in order to perfect the work. Without the feedback of the audience or the honing of the editor the raw product is poor. For the skill set necessary to create a work of art is too onerous and multiple for any one person to possess in full. Few have that range of ability. I surely do not.

A writer sits in solitude catching the globes of ideas that pass through their mind and capturing them in symbols. These words pour out in endless stream across a clean white sheet and build up into page after page. It is a relentless task, to keep up with the flow and translate those ideas into their essence – to liberate the abstract into concrete form that communicates their spirit. I use the word liberate deliberately – for I see those ideas freed from an internal abstraction into a wider world – a world where others might interpret them and taste the abstraction themselves. So while the symbols are reductionary and restrictive, the liberation comes in explosions of realisation in the minds of others as the essence, packaged in the constrained symbols, is released in the consciousness of others. The ideas are liberated from the mind of one into the minds of many.

That is the creative task of a writer.

Yet should the writing process be strewn with spelling, grammatical or structural faults that intrude and prevent that process of communication, like boulders on the highway, then the art is lost.

The writer can rarely see the boulders they have created to block the progress of the reader. It is the task of the editor to identify the faults and smooth the path. That is a skill as adept as any creator.

Alone we are less. Together we are greater. Every master miller requires a master baker in order to create the perfect loaf.

As a writer I am constantly haunted by Paul Simon’s words –

‘And all my words come back to me

In shades of mediocrity;

Like emptiness in harmony.

I need someone to comfort me.’

That is always how I feel – bereft.

Leave a Reply