"The Void" Contest Winners / March 2014 (Issue 23)

Where the Red Stone Crumbles

by Catherine Edmunds

You’re long gone, won’t read this, can’t tell me
about the cows’ skulls buried at the foot of the doorway,
the boy who carried the oil lamp – the last to leave.

The statues are gone – robbed out. Pillars are pit props
over at Etherley. Altars, desecrated, adorn the walls
to a different god. But the bulls came over the sea

and soldiers don’t forget. Walls subside, they droop
in waves. Dere Street stands firm, but how long? You expect me
to know the words; these spoil heaps – bones, teeth,

a scrap of pottery, curved grey, smooth as the day it left
the potter’s wheel. Charcoal crumbles from the last firing;
another potsherd, exquisite Samian-ware, who broke it, when?

Along the via principia, cobbles, post holes for awnings,
a hypocaust below. You’ve channelled the clouds onto a plinth
where the wall bends and aches with the weight of your story.

The stump of a pillar, pollen on the breeze. Your tale
is a spoil heap, the land-mottled weathering, a burial,
a tiny death, where the red stone crumbles.
This is the First Prize Winner of Cha's "Void" Poetry Contest. Read a description of the poem by Catherine Edmunds here. [Read Daryl Yam's commentary on this poem.] [Return to the "Void" section.]
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