Monday, 31 August 2020

Interlude 10—Otzy



The cold eats through your bones,

the blinding snowflakes freeze your beard,

and leather straw and wool have lost their power to warm.

You stumble on on feet of lead

a roaring fire, a waiting wife 

the only impetus

for that next agonizing step.

A feather bed of snow 

beneath the wind,

you lay your quiver knife and axe aside 

and rest 

Fifty centuries of calm blue ice

muffle with equal ease

an army's thunderous tread, 

the whisper of a thought.

Asleep you lie 

as Hannibal passed by

fooled by Rome's eternity

and Christ fished

in waters deeper than your sleep.

Your changeless dreams 

a simple hut on legs beside a lake

a hearth

a meal of fish and grain

a family to pass your memory down.

Poor fool

even the lake has long since gone.

The ice withdraws

and leaves you naked

in our questing glare,

an ancient man so primitive

and yet so much like us. 

We probe in awe 

the arrow in your back,

the sacred marks upon your skin,

each tiny seed of gruel from your final meal, 

and catalogue your trinkets tools and garb

as through those hollow eyes

you watch our petty quarrelling

I want to touch your face

feel the skin's dark leatheriness

let you know I am alive

and care.

Maybe then you will awake

and forgive us

for killing you.

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