Meeting My Other

Meeting My Other
Badbury Clump

Under waves of beech-leaf greens, I swim in my bonds.
As I listen for the absent hum of bees from bluebell seas,
you come and set with the sun, behind my shoulder–
an attached shadow at the edge of all senses,

Iron Age lady,

your spine straight as a Catuvellaunian sword,
shepherdess’s shoulders warmed by wool you spun,
dyed berry-red, wove and clasped with a ring-pin brooch,
your mane nut-brown, braided and beaded,
skin sun-tanned leather,
fingers herb-stained, sickle-tipped, nimble as your shuttle.

Your clay-cracked feet tread lightly behind.
Your uninhibited eyes, frown and inspect me –
as women do who are each other’s mirrors –
until I – self-conscious in the tissue of my skin –
feel the whiteness of my trimmed nails,
the combed flow of my styled hair,
the polyamides of my dress and shoes,
my bottled water, my jangling car keys–
me a potted houseplant, well-fed,
chemically protected from disease,
and from rain and wind by a rectilinear world,
digitally-connected, in digitally-measured time.

Though my ears nerve-strain and my eyes in-vision,
I dare not look behind lest you fade, sister,
like Erecura or Euridice back into winter’s shades
beyond the boundary of insight.

Was I once like you –
my seat a turf or stump,
skin acrid with soil and woodsmoke,
splashed with the blood-warmth of milk and calf flesh,
chapped hands softened with lanoline,
carrying water in clay pots,
my days and seasons turning with the sun,
sustained in circles of time and hut, ditch and bank,
mind spinning with curiosity in an unwritten world –

haunting this hillfort as you haunt me?