Sample poem

Ancestors

The painted ones, a name
that is not your own,
inhabiting a land between
the known and the debatable worlds.

You left nothing on the tongue
but hints of structure
in the sound of places here and there – 
Pittenweem, Pitscottie, Cardenden – 
and little remains but king-lists,
shards of flint locked
behind smoked glass
smelling of camp fires, 
and slabs of sandstone,
whorled and spiralled.

You lie uneasily
between bronze and iron,
anchored by stone
and the texts of those who fought against you.
You are sifted into all the folds
of streams and mere – 
your bones and broken jars
beneath dunes or peat-dark waters,
your fragments of cloth
dyed with broom flowers
or the crushed ichor of shellfish.

All you left is gathered now
in chilled and empty spaces
of tungsten and glass
as dead as your tongue.
Yet you lie uneasily still
between blood and flesh,
anchored by our endless two-fold spirals.

Ancestral, known, disremembered.

© Barbara Lennox 2000

 

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