Roman Silchester

The old carrier wind has passed the bushes,
iridescent, set rare as pagan brooches
firm in the dress of the blonde moonfield
glinting with night jewels like a crescent,
where shivered flintlight is starpointed.

Wrung from the flesh of the Atrebates
the round brown weaver trees have sprung
deep through the powdered Belgic frosts
to the magic loom of the Silchester night,
while Calleva covered the birds which sang.

And the birds which sang were like the lovers who loved
or the tall brown fruit girl of the forum
who knelt to Heracles in pre-Wessex sun
and prayed for the strength of the new men-children
she would give to time and the flowers

Here, where the gaunt tree-gnomons reach
we are not far from those old poets
who sang of the colour of beautiful women,
woven cherry-fire in their harvest faces,
blood-snow in their winter skin.

Here I will tell my last love, with her grave supple body,
when snow is melting or in winter sunlight,
'They are not the winds on the rivers or ghosts in the skies;
they live in our lonely hearts and our twin-made eyes,
though Calleva has covered her children.'

by Eric Ratcliffe

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