Preserved

Abi Curtis

I: Tollund, after 2000 Years

I found you smoked in the loam,
Leathered by the loop of time.
Lithe earthling. Bog-bottled.

I turned out the tissues of your paunch
To view your last meal.
Perhaps you ate it when he did;
You, west of Silkeborg, roped then swallowed
Into the umber of the Jutland.
He, a stone’s throw from Gethsemane, raised to the wind.
He crumbled bread, while your crumbled bones gave way
To show me bristle grass, camomile, knotweed.

I lay you down, swarthy with oil,
Cured by a slumber in the quagmire.
You smiled serenely beneath your peaty cap.

II: Ötzal Alps, after 5300 Years

You recognised me by the copper glint
Of my dagger through the ice
And my clear blue eyes.

Every cell of mine is crystalline.
I’m glazed in layers of centuries;
Still cosy in my grass cloak and bearskin shoes,
Memory blanched clean by the blizzard.
Under the gully, I still clutch my quiver.
I might be shepherd, shaman or hunter.
You’ll never know as you spoon me out.

The snow stroked me into death,
Now my alpine drift is swapped
For a fridge in Innsbruck
Where I cannot sleep.

III: Echo, after Love

The only words I could find were yours.
You didn’t recognise my singing
So you turned to the silence of the stream.

Your eyes rippled at your fingertips,
Your skin thinned to petals at your touch.
I moaned in the rushes,
Wept in the cover of a nimbus,
Breaking your mirror.

Flesh falls, leaving echoes
And a puff of pollen spores.
They kiss the water’s face,
Nudging the breeze to chaos.

Curl tight around your root but allow me
The last word.