Shifting and shaking my stones around
with padded kevlar gloves
as I keep on working because
the flashing fish have been dredged from the symphonies
behind my tone-deaf ear-drum, because
the razor wire has ripped a world into zones
before my flesh remembered Earth
the air the trees the rivers had their arteries snipped
when I sleep-walked into the machine.
Now prosthetics have been fitted:
wagging tongue, one-click heart and cyborg brain –
and every one of them moulded from tissues
stripped from the bones of an ancient body
that was always too messy, too raucous.
But I hear its pulse when my stones start grinding.
Sometimes they stir a muffled moan
nagging me to dig for hands
lost beneath the hardening rubble
of canned promises and bottled abuse –
so they might touch the dumbed-down Earth …
and feel shoots that unfold into green
and dip into water that’s bright and warm ….
Enough to purge the impotence
of how I should have loved her.
But it’s winter now. Time to expose bare skin;
brisk out of the numbness that betrays what’s left.
In the cold that surrounds us
far from laughter and before grief sets in
a pulse is beating, throbbing;
and I hear the tones at the root of my voice.
They’re embedded in the land.
And they need to find an open throat
to chant for a body that will shake off the wires
and plant today another hazel
and pray there’ll be a morning
when our hands will grow
wide enough and clean enough
to rewild the stone of the land we stripped
and drop the stones of what we’ve become.
We’ve reached the end of kingship.