Saturday, 10 November 2018

Ghosts

for Wroth Silver 2018 after Gary Snyder

Listen, I saw ghosts:
The ghost of an elephant, a lion, a hyena
A wolf, a crane, a bear & a boar
& herds as far as the eye can see.
I saw the ghost of Liopleurodon ferox
Swimming in a sunlit sea of coiled
Jurassic shell; reptile with a head
As big as I am, beneath our feet, just now.

Listen, I saw the ghost
Of the wild, white Aurochs of the red nose & ears
Bellow on a winter’s morning
Her breath steam, her shaggy ochre head
Raised to the dawn; no mad dun cow she!
Queen of the land.

Listen.
I saw the ghosts of strong earth people
The great old ones, laughing around their fire
Feasting, dancing, hunting, fighting
Ritually raise their spears to the moon
& stars in celebration & defiance.

Listen, I saw ghosts!
I saw, I heard them! The singing people
Guiding their herds along a ridgeway
Track over the land of yearly journeys
To spring pastures & winter slaughter
Alert to their horizon, to signs on the road ahead
& I saw the ghosts of the first carts & wagons.

Listen!
I saw men coming home from war;
Weary, many wounded in body & in mind,
Finally achieve their journey’s end;
I saw their loved ones wait to greet them,
To welcome them home to the life of the land
& I saw the families of those who could not return
Bound together in grief, worry & pain.

Listen.
I saw folk here, beneath the trees in a ceremony:
Folk from The Hill of the Bird People,
The Longtown of the Itchings, the Prince’s Hamlet,
The Upland Where They Grow Rye,
Wulfric’s Town, Eagle Field, The Eastern Field,
Bubba’s Hill, Broom Cottage, Har’s Hill;
Gathered on the Warrior’s Tump
Before dawn, remembering it all.

Look, they do remember, even if they do not see us,
& if only for a moment,
We are one, the living & the dead,
Standing together beneath winter sky trees.
Someone recites the old names in the dark,
They make an offering
& then they celebrate a feast in the morning.




Ghosts from Wroth Silver 1899 are looking at you.
To find out more about Wroth Silver, go here: http://www.wrothsilver.org.uk/

To read my previous Wroth silver poems follow these links:
2014: Martinmas
2015: The Road of Time
2016: Wheel of the Year, Wheel of the Land

2017: Eight Decades

Sound recordings of all the poems should be available soon!

All the animals referenced have lived here at some point over the last half a million years apart from Liopleurodon ferox; a pliosaur; a giant marine reptile from the Jurassic period, the remains of which have been discovered in the midlands. “The most awesome animal that ever lived” according to rankopedia.com

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