by David Calcutt
Deep cleft cut
Through the head’s green world
Exposing roots, ancient tracks
The petrified, migratory
Flightpaths of birds
And a slow, hidden breathing
The secret word cradled
In cupped hands
Kept close, as a fire in its hearth
A blade in its sheath
The eye, ever watchful
In its hidden chamber.
We came first to the high place
Where creatures of rock
Straddled their kingdom
Wreathed in their own smoky breath.
Their roar was the wind
That took the skin from our faces.
Then we travelled the spiny ridge-back
Happy explorers of that early world
With our sandwiches and teaflasks
Armour against the strangeness
And the big wings of brightness
And the hollow ground
That echoed beneath our feet
And the voice that spoke from far off
Calling us down.
The knight kneeling in his armour
A lonely stone on the hill slope.
The lord feasting in his castle
A fox snuffling at the bones of a sheep.
The lady sewing in her chamber
A hawk hanging to the threads of the wind.
And, deep within the folds
Of the labyrinth rock
Humped like a crow over its carrion
The storyteller makes this tale
Sharp as the moon’s edge
Bloody as a sunset
From the breath of his god
That gives each word its bite.
Man of mossy stone
Mildewed, muddy jacket
And feet grown down
Into the ground
After long wandering you’ve found your resting place
At home with the woodlice
And in the earthworm’s gut
Where the lizard peers
From its crevice lookout
Happy to ease yourself
Out of your bones
Let wind and weather pick you apart
Become mush of earth, log-mash
And this slow, soft breathing
Among the silky, green draperies
As she lays you down
For a last kiss
Her true love
The one we’ve come looking for.
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