Monday, 11 August 2008

The Farmer upon finding a stone axe-head

Green stone shines in the newly-turned earth,
foreign among the limestone rocks.
I bend to pick it up,
caress its silkiness, then
notice its axe-head shape.

What kind of man left it here?
What thought could we have in common?
Would he marvel at the hawthorn blossom,
drawing in its heady scent?
Would he watch the deer as she leapt
and ran
with effortless grace?

Or would he see the hawthorn as fuel for his fire
and the deer as food for his belly?

Was his village here? Where I am standing?
Or, more likely, over Zebra Hill
on higher, safer ground.

Did he love
with a fierce intensity
the woman who bore his children?
As I do.

Were his children well fed,
happy, healthy
and warm?
Did the woman stand and watch
and wait for his return?

And why did he leave the axe here?
Did something I cannot imagine
cause him to drop it
and flee?
For it would be a precious thing,
not easily abandoned.

I need to believe
that the last hand that touched this stone
lived five thousand years ago.
And, although hands in museums and societies
touch it, feel its smoothness,
imagine it being used as they
pass it one to another,
mine is the hand
that has the contact,
direct and unbroken,
with that Neolithis hand.


Crafty Green Poet said...

I've often wondered the same, when I visit ancient sites.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the comment. We have found quite a few ancient things on our land over the years and each find is exciting. I always feel that I am the first one to touch the object since it was left there and that provides a link with the past.

Dominic Rivron said...

What you say about touching it is interesting. I have what I think is a (far cruder) prehistoric stone tool. It isn't polished like this one, but the patina on the edge where you would hold it is awesome to contemplate. Unfortunately, every time you pick it up you add to it and "degrade" it: less of the patina is prehistoric, more of it is modern.

The Weaver of Grass said...

This is inevitable though with everything, isn't it (going up steps worn by centuries of monks for example). On a slightly different theme though I often think, in these days of exotic fruit and veg from all over the world coming here, our soil is now made up of particles from everywhere (from compost heaps)