Outskirts online journal

Stephanie Green

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Volume 1, May 1996

Boadicea Lives


           Boadicea lives on the mountain

where icicles point upward to the sky,

catching light from stars to fling it back again,

her only light in time, she holds it in her eyes,

as coins between her muddy fingernails.

She harvests ice as you might radishes or pears,

digs in the dirt alone, ploughs armies, whispers greedily

of rats and knives, rats and knives.

She breaks daggers from their stalks and one

by one she turns and scrapes them into blades

to lay them point to point against her enemies.

Her hair is ragged, strung with the crackling ghosts

of flames in hearths she left behind,

her clothes are pages torn from books

that clutter round her, dead leaves lifted by the wind.

She dances with her cold sword to make her wrists

stay thin and strong against her prey, singing

of rats and knives, rats and knives,

the silver knives that die with seasons and return.

Boadicea plays with rats and dreams

they are her children, come for food and warmth,

escaping nights through crevices, wilful

to fight or bite their murderers' fees, or slip

away unheeding to the mountain caves.

Rats and knives, rats and knives.

She will arm her folk with ice,

before the melt turns earth and wood bone grey.

Hairs will snap, blades will raven, white on black.

Her knives will pare the moon

and by its darkness bring light back to her again.

 

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