For a year we have been unearthing oak,
Unraveling coiled roots from the soil’s grasp.
We have bared the mighty timber limbs
That explored the cold dark places,
The corded arms that reached for the world’s heart.
We have teased and untangled the Gorgon’s hair
Of rootlets intermeshed with fungal mould.
The fresh rain will wash the roots clean
So that we can weave them intricately
Into corn dolly, osier wickerwork plaits.
Where the North Sea wind unpeels the dunes
And etches the land with their abrasive sand;
Where the curlew cries over the shingle shore
And the bittern booms from the rushy fens;
There at the confluence of air, sea and land
Let us build our interdimensional henge.
An unbroken ring of oak trunks, a palisade
To enclose the sanctuary of the inverted tree.
The gateway is a single-bole, twin-trunked oak,
A tuning fork through which a man might barely pass.
Under this gate they have buried me.
I was fed a meal of summer berries –
Bramble, whortle, elder, damson and crab.
And a mix of autumn grains and nuts –
Barley, rye, oat, acorn, mast and cob.
Four fair maids have washed my hair in dew,
Combed and braided it in periwinkle shells.
They each in turn made gentle love to me,
Gave me to drink hemlock, mead and agaric
Before they took the leather cord and strangled me.
When the wild North Sea scoured the coast
And the dunes of centuries were washed away,
Standing in silt at the tide’s furthest reach,
A curious circle of ancient stumps was found.
At the epicentre, at the very cusp and hub,
A strange replanted oak tree stood,
Its head in the earth, its roots in the air
So that it might draw downwards the radiant dawn,
The cries of plovers, curlews and terns,
And the laughter of lovers to feed the dead.