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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014

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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Capital Territory, Australia


Thunder Moon

I am an infant: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolmen arch.

Song of Amergin, trans. Robert Graves

A funny night, that one. Is ‘funny’ the right word? The night of Thunder Moon. That’s what I call it. The full moon in July. And a serious heatwave in Merrie England. Well, 30-ish days. Would be an ordinary summer for us in Oz, but the English all dying of heat-stroke. Lock up your elderly, the newspapers trumpet, and your cardiovascular. I don’t admit to ‘elderly’. I’m barely 74. But ‘cardiovascular’, OMG, that’s me for sure. Huge scar down my chest.

An electric storm all around us. My friend the Engineer counts the seconds between flash and boom, calculates the distance. It always seems to be about three miles away. Rotates around us. Close enough that I’m wary of being on exposed slopes too long.

We’ve been walking today from our camp near Windmill Hill. Have something to eat then set off about 8 pm for a circuit of the significant landscape sites. I feel a bit reluctant. Long hot day and it’s rather close to an infant’s bedtime.

Daylight fades as we approach Silbury Hill, ancient earth mother. Is it the largest manmade structure in Europe? Woman-made? A pyramid of chalk blocks, representing the belly of the pregnant Goddess. Built 5000 years ago by ancestors who excavated the chalk with deer antlers, and raised the blocks with wooden levers.

moonlight . . .
approaching the Mother
through a field gate . . .
the grizzled kisses
of the ancestors

Adrenaline rush as we climb the hill. Actually I get it with almost any hill. Race up the steep grassy slope, using my poles for balance. I need to be first on top. A small clearing with wildflowers. Someone has placed offerings earlier today. The song comes into my head: May the circle be open but unbroken. We take hands and dance it. May the love of the Goddess be ever in your heart.

I measure
out my life
in circles
of interlocked hearts
that dissolve and re-form

Other songs. Where I walk is holy, holy is this ground. Bright moonlight now. I long to curl up in the long grass, make a nest for the night, sleep with the Goddess. But the group is not tempted, decides to move on.

Plunge down the hill, across the main road, A4. Not much traffic this time of night. Beepbeep. Strange, a text message. My sister in London letting us know about a royal birth. So that’s how it works! Pilgrims celebrate the pregnant Goddess under the full moon, and shortly afterwards, mmm . . . For unto us a child is born. Don’t sing Runtoowuz the choirmaster snarls. Am I hallucinating?

rehearsal . . .
large tenor blocks my view
sopranos
screech my ear . . .
cant handel the entries

Signposted track to West Kennet long barrow. A mile or so and we reach the barrow. Going inside the burial chamber my friends yell at me “Turn off the light!”

don’t shine your torch
don’t wake them up
we
that come after
don’t want to be seen

Offended and a little bit spooked, I get out of there quickly and sit outside. Sleepy. Curl up on the turf and wait for the others. It clouds over. There seem to be three or four extra people here. A dog or two. Who are they? Who else would visit a Bronze Age burial chamber at midnight?

a blowfly hovers
in the empty chambers
of Long Barrow
but where have all
the ancestors gone

Walking down to the Swallowtail Spring it starts to rain. Fumble with a plastic bag to protect my notebook and phone. The spring is believed to have been a site of ritual. An annual miracle of rebirth here. The spring dries up in the autumn and flows again in the spring. It’s flowing now. Slippery rocks, and I get a bootful. Born and reborn again.

We follow an overgrown track towards Avebury henge. Stinging nettles. Our leader charges up Waden Hill to approach through the Avenue of standing stones. Lightning crackles. I’m tired and I’m wet. Someone else is bothered by the storm. “What about O, H and S?” she mumbles. The two of us short cut back to the camp. Tumble into tent about 2 am and drift off as I hear the voices of the others returning.

moon-flooded night
on the ancestors’ hill
waking
to misty dawn
tranquillity

Morning damp and grey. There are slugs on the tent. I look over towards West Kennet. A large crop circle has appeared on the hillside.


Author’s Note: The tanka ‘don’t shine your torch’ was in Atlas Poetica Special Feature, “Supernatural Tanka”, 2013; ‘moonlight’ in Atlas Poetica, 2014.

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