Song To Sequana (Burgundy, 100 BC) and other poems by Tim Miller

SONG TO NEHALENNIA (NETHERLANDS, AD 200)

 
Lady, here are offering for all those
whose business has to do with ships
the ones from here to Albion & back
and the prow you always lean upon;
 
Lady, here are offerings for all those
whose business is with the worked earth
the ones with and herbs and flowers
and all the fruits piled upon your lap;
 
Lady, here are offerings for all those
who have ceased with commerce and died
our sons in the sea and our fathers in the ground
and the Dark World’s dog always as your side;
 
Lady, here are fresh loaves from all those
that have desired your altar and temple and shrine
the ones who follow your miles to the water
theirs and our mothers the long background of you.
 

LOOKING FOR NERTHUS (AD 100)

for Jenny
 
The priest senses a new weight in the wagon
and it’s driven by boat to the mainland
and wheeled with rejoicing from place to place:
 
the pulling cows are feted and a new
festival for the goddess is founded,
food and thanks for the draped wagon, and all
 
weapons of war hidden from her presence.
When she’s had her fill of adoration
she’s returned to her island and her lake
 
where she’s washed among familiar confines
of grove and temple and shore, where she’s bathed
along with wagon and hangings and wheels:
 
the image of a woman washed with lake
water and carried like the chariot
does the sun, or like the buried wagons
 
do the dead, bronze sun and horse and wheels:
not the first woman drawn so and not the
last goddess, someone preceding her perhaps,
 
only the wheels and the wagon and the
woman remembered, pulled by this or that
animal, woman of some or other name,
 
this or that grove or lake, this or that land
or island all for her, a mystery,
since the slaves who bathed her are drowned in the lake
 
for their knowing but necessary touch,
for the dire but brilliant revelation
that with everything they give, the gods are hard.
 

SONG TO SEQUANA (BURGUNDY, 100 BC)

 
Source of the Seine, shrine and woman of the spring
sanctuary to water’s sudden appearance
doorway to underground and old elsewhere
place to abide and feel close to the dead
close to some culmination of the landscape
—elsewhere a grove, elsewhere a rock, elsewhere
a single venerable tree, and here a spring—
draped lady in your boat, diadem on your head,
I bring a bronze body for my brother
I bring a wooden leg for my neighbor
I bring a stone head for my own ailment
so that by such illustrations you might
make the bodies of your pilgrims whole again.
 

SONG TO SULIS (BATH, 100 BC)

 
Before the Romans arrived
there was only the water,
warm, coming up from the ground,
goddess of the deepest earth
as well as eye of the sun,
copious mother needing
no buildings or mosaics
but only pious bodies,
maybe a thrown offering,
bits of bronze or just some words
at the water’s edge or immersed,
reassurance during war
or relief at plenitude,
pilgrims all from a long way
stunned to be on this same ground
as their great distant mother
and her hands of warm water.
 
 ⊗ Cuween Chambered Cairn & other poems by Tim Miller

⊕ Bone Antler Stone (Museum Pieces) by Tim Miller
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Tim Miller’s most recent book is the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books). His novel Bearing the Names of Many is forthcoming from Pelekinesis, and he also write about poetry, history and religion at http://www.wordandsilence.com.
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