photo: Christopher Schoenbohm. Illustration: Metagramme

The Word-Ring

Over the stone fence,
beyond the mown grass,
on the border of a fog-bank:
We found a half-buried
obsidian spearhead, its face
catching what muted light
the morning afforded.
We fetched it with care and bolted
back to the house, for fear
that we’d awoken a vast barrow-wight
of the Holocene, who,
rolling in sleep, had torn
his mossy blanket with one
flint-chipped knuckle.

Inside, you sat on the couch
with a board book on your lap,
reading aloud to yourself.
Forehead bobbing in cadence
with “big green toads”
and “every duck along the way.”
The tread of your tongue awash
in the cooling and coating
of muck and mire.

I’d always thought you were born
in the wrong era.
Your true place might be found
in the Pictish north,
balanced on your haunches
in the lee of a cairn.
A hollow night at your back,
guttering coals at your face.
A searching wind, spiraling
down among the crags.
An audience, blue with woad
and grey with pelts.
Gathered, warmed and fed
by the sparks from your word-ring.