Advent Iv

Wave tops like running diamonds
arise, break down, arise again.
The waters of dream bays of history
undulate with warrior pieces,
lost crested helms thrown up with flotsam
and the lifeless flanks of battle horses.
Some life's recaptured on a Minster stone,
heraldic glass. still monument,
diapered shield, delight of blazoners,
charged ordinaries replacing death and pain;
saltweeds of time thicken like hair
blood-clotted from the axe and mace
swung to the target of some mother's son.
So Time's foetus ripens but to cut itself,
mother's magic destroyed by mother's magic,
cell deeds programmed for a killing field.
The carnifex is urged to execute,
the blastula incarnate grows to slay.

The cargoes of red centuries are piled and sunk
in birthships unsignalled and unlighted.
Gone to sea tombs every one.
The elements absorb, the land runs green,
the waters take, forget, obliterate,
what drowns in foster seas has ever gone
- fallen in the suffocating silt,
without a memory of lost momentum
- bones picked clean upon a fallow floor.

by Eric Ratcliffe

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