Recorded by Anthony Shuster
Put your ear to the ground –
hear the shouts of rotten flesh,
the clash of smith and wheel wright,
twist and stretch of the rope maker.
Your eyes will sting with the scent
of wood smoke, run with the bite
of ammonia from foetid urine.
Long below all this runs
the mark of Boudicca’s revenge
in the thin, red slice of burnt iron;
splitting a line of ash and clay
layered in the stones and tiles,
wood, old fires and bones.
Now squeezed by North and South
within its mud-soft lined canal;
the river once nurtured Neanderthal,
Homo Sapiens; lonely itinerants
drifting by for half a million years.
The first hut 15,000 years ago,
now a city of a myriad tongues
that adopts all who come –
hunter, farmer, the dispossessed.
© Anthony Fisher, February 2011