Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Hammer Stone

In the early 90s I was into Earth Mysteries and ley lines and all that stuff- and highly seductive it is too. Are those people still out there or was it all a passing fad? Anyway, I dug deeper and then a little deeper and it ended up with me sitting my archaeology 'O' level- and passing with distinction. I sometimes say that if I could have my time over again I'd be an archaeologist. Whether I really mean it is another matter entirely. Archaeologists have to be patient and painstaking and happy to work outside in all weathers. 

Which doesn't sound very much like me.

Anyway, this was also a time when I was sorting my head out by writing poems at the rate of two or three a week and inevitably a lot of them deal with archaeology at some level or other. 

This was the first of them.  And because it's the first it feels special.  I've been looking at it for a few days now, sizing it up and looking for flaws and this morning I took my courage in both hands and rewrote the ending.

                                    HAMMER STONE


                                    Phil comes home with a hammer stone.

                                    It was lent to him by Dave Tully

                                    Whose expertise is in Celtic Warrington.


                                    Picture Tully walking the fields;

                                    He's looking out for the shapes of coins-

                                    Silver, copper, stamped with the image

                                    Of some fat Caesar with thyroid problems,

                                    Looking for glints from special stones


                                    Like this.  It comes from the Neolithic,

                                    About the size of a bag of flour,

                                    With dimpled sides, a glassy finish,

                                    Percussion marks at the business end.


                                    I lift it up.  It weighs as much

                                    As a severed head.  It's a two-hand job

                                    To pound whatever it was we pounded

                                    Before there were nails.


                                                                          And I am in love

                                    With a hill and a wood and a boundary river.

                                    On moonless nights they breach the circle

                                    And make like birds.  They trail their wings

                                    All round my village.


                                                                                “Of course,"says Phil,                      
                                    Holding his hands out to take it back,

                                    “It’s possible Tully’s wrong and this"-

                                    He strokes the hammer stone’s silky flanks-

                                    “Is nothing to do with us and it came

                                    From a river bed and was shaped by water.”

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