THE CHARTERHOUSE MINES.
Blood washed and slate, the sky presided
over one hour’s walk to mark the mines.
the mist formed veils in fading light
as shadows slid from shafts
and a banshee of an owl claimed the night.
long headed shepherds, moor and marsh dreamers,
prehistoric miners of Iberian descent
all colonise the hills and form
a Charterhouse of painted caves and white skulls
then the mist moves as a turning worm.
hard and straight the lines of Rome converge
with convicts for the mining and theatres for the troops
smells of alchemy, arrogance and blood
seep through villas whose owners rattle dice cups
on mosaics where the wolf packs stood.
the bleakest times of iron and mud soaked wars
let a merchant church command the shafts.
between the rage of Forresters, the Royal sword
and the silver greed of Bishops,
the land wept lead without a word.
near Cheddar streams as red as Waterloo soldiers
boys curled up and faded with seven years of life.
in the swamp smell tunnels, through gruffy ground,
lamps in a thousand tents vanished in the wind
and left the owl, in the mist, the only sound.
all quiet now on the desolate hill. no noise
and silent graves, washed away with slurry
but their spirits pray in the heather bed,
near the reeds where snipe prepare for sleep
and the grassland as the rabbits lick the lead.