Words for Wednesday


White Horse Hill

Martin Shaw

They carry her ashes



inside a basket.


Wrapped in bear fur,

with flakes of charcoal

from the burning:

of oak and hazel,

and floating strands

from her shroud.


The blue winds of


White Horse Hill

numb the jaws of

these far walkers,


So distant we can

barley see them.


The bairn’s dust is

taken to the high hill,

haunt of bleak vastness.


A cairn is prepared,

the old sounds made.


Purple moor grass

stuffed about the bounty,

gathered in the


Spindlewood ear studs,

from such trees that still grow

on the lower slopes, pelt,

a woven belt of nettles.


A necklace that behooves a sovereign,

with precious amber beads,

from snowy east.


A place so far away

over there they whisper

that each bead is a word

and a necklace a story.


Unfathomable wealth.


This crucible:

a basket wefted

from the inner bark

of a lime tree — the bast —

threaded with the

hair of cattle,

rendered and soaked

in Dartmoor water.

Innumerable hours

stitching your sorrow

to the Otherworld.


Picture found here.


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