Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Stamped with lichen, bound by bracken root,
Sunk in acid soil,
Each heap of stone affects disguise.
Death's ritual leaves slight signs.
Slanting sunlight, morning, evening,
Shadows each circumference. Betrays.
Many gouged by curiosity and greed.
First in rank and ostentation—first to fall;
The unpretentious huddle humbly in the soil, survive.

They are the scanty evidence of another life.
A smear upon the soil,
Burnt bone, a piece of flint, a pot, a bead,
Sealed once, but not invulnerable.
We focus on these tiny scraps of time
With force that hurls jet fighters overhead
And simulates the power of sun.
We are our Age, we bring technology
To bear upon a past where writing played no part,
But symbolism loomed large.

Gods lived and were placated;
Man and woman not enough.
Force drove through grass blades, crackled in the skies,
Hurled rainbows, hid the face of moon and sun.
Awesome. Kept us in our place.
We are the piece of broken bone, the pile of dust.
A piece of flint is our technology,
A bead or two our power or vanity.

We are the hands that placed the pot inside the grave,
Love that mourns a while.
The cairn above our heads cuts out the sky
As we move on.

Stan Beckensall

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