The Poet as Archaeologist

At midnight in the fields of my humanity
I break the silence with a prayer and
stooping on warm ground, cast my coat.

Beckoned by history’s scent, and watching yesterdays,
I begin to collect half answers with a trowel,
for to be fixed and shored would be
to shroud some other light.

In ancient caves I measure gritty bricks and buffers,
unblocking obstruction with a pick,
contemplating potent questions pitted by the night,
without dislodging criticalities.

Complacency is crushed against
the monolithic walls I climb to harness
crumbs of wonder; the sting of straps
drawn tight upon my wrists, borne in good faith.

My ageing ropes are not taut, and not precise;
endeavour challenged by verticalities.
Oh those worthy comrades strung from ropes close by
swing a tantalising rhythm.

At dawn, with arms of love, I drape about the roof
and rafter-dance with mighty beams caught by earth,
refracting sharp from off her face, to
fly me respectfully onto shoulders of toil.

From this place I witness men and women
bending to practicalities they task themselves to shift,
and though their masters quit, they stay
to build and banter still around this busy tract.

Daylight strikes and sceptics lean upon the gate;
my voice quieted by the human tide
I descend unsupported columns, collect my coat,
but string commitment to the citadel of return.


Published by

Julia Dean-Richards

Julia is a writer and performer living in the Shropshire hills. Her writing is a product and expression of the love she has found whilst journeying through the most difficult times of her life.

14 thoughts on “The Poet as Archaeologist”

      1. Yes please. Splash of milk, no sugar.
        I’m glad it wasn’t just me. But the thing is that as with so much of what you write I wanted to understand it, or at least get some meaning from it. Lots of the poets I read, if I don’t get it first time out of the hat, I say, ‘Oh sod it. Life’s too short.’ I never feel like that about your work.
        I still love Big Foot. Believe it or not it can reduce me to tears while laughing at the same time.
        I just whacked the link for Big Foot back onto my FB page. I really love this. Thank you for making my world a brighter place with that little gem.

      2. Heh heh, I just write and put them out here, but responding to challenging feedback keeps my numskulls (little people of Beano fame) employed, which must be a good thing. Thanks to the wonderful variety of people who visit my cave, I may even have a poem for tomorrow 😉

  1. I think the concept behind the piece is very good. But there are times when as poets we talk about a real person, or another piece of art, or as in this case using an extended metaphor to talk about our own art couched in the terms of another discipline that facts, too many of them, becomes a nemesis, couds the clarity of what is hidden within what one was trying to say. I think if you simplified the ‘actualities’ of archeology your meaning would not be so difficult to uncover and bring to the light of day. I think there is an undiscovered civilization waiting.>KB

      1. KB, I am concerned you do not appear to have received the above acknowledgement of your message. I hope you will continue to leave your valued feedback – I am always interested in your response.

  2. Popped in to look around and the title pulled me in…
    I really like this.
    Each poem can be that unique puzzle piece that only tells one part of the tale of who we were and who we might be.

  3. My first comment here (I think) Julie and I love this having read it numerous times on email.

    You have a mastery of words (and metaphor) and although I like to think I have the commitment of return – some work is lodged firmly in yesterday, much requiring a pick to remove the obstruction…

    Anna :o]

    1. Hey, thanks Anna – and Julie, and welcome. This poem had a bumpy ride, as it started as one piece and morphed into something quite different. You might even say I had to dig to find this one. I think the first piece will probably come out quite differently in the end too, if it ever gets excavated 🙂

      I find it interesting that poems seem to find their own length too – what comes first, the poet or the poem?

please feel free to comment on these poems - all feedback appreciated. :)

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