In the unscrubbed mirror: Mežitis burial ground

Latvia 2010 108

All these fears came here,
The agony, the misunderstanding,
The hope, the joy,
The ordinary follies
Of good love and bad;
They’ve spilled away
Into the waiting earth.

Just this echo sounds,


Row upon row,
Field upon field,
Rise these stelae.
Long and short,
One upon another,
Lovingly marked
As if to banish forgetfulness.

“Goodbye, fare well
On your long last journey.
We shall never forget you.
But just in case,
Here are your particulars.”

Richard’s heart

Richard Lionheart’s heart has been exhumed, and, although to dust it has returned, what remains is mingled with creosote, frankincense, and numerous other fragrant herbs.  The point seems to have been to preserve it and make it more attractive to God, who, as everyone knows, is easily fooled.  Inspired by my friend Elaine Stirling, I thought I’d write a short poem in 12th century style, a low bar to clear, judging by this fragment:

A man who dines with the French
Should grab whatever he may
As either he will end up with the nuts
Or will just carry off the shallots
                                  – Andrew de Countances

Right, then:

King Richard had no heart so pure
It could be sent to all anon
As unadorned as baby’s bum
For God to fondle as He choose

It lies in France unaccidental
But in such company as befits
A king whose heart was torn
Twixt kindly deeds and murder

All tars and herbs the nose to please
Surrounded Richard’s organ
To no avail it seems
‘Tis naught but reddish dust these days

Maybe Prometheus could pull it off
To swindle Zeus with fatted bones
But God these days is wiser
Having seen enough of Europes’s kings