Posts Tagged ‘body art’

The Giving of Names (continued 5)


A space between the stars.
Dark, we are wrapped, wringed,
Unnamed even,
A smudge in the night,
Inked, marked, shaded.
Climbing from mud
No thoughts of our own,
Blameless we destroy,
Blameless we create.
A shadow of the master,
A wish of the mistress,
A whisper down the dark glen
A breeze turning a cold cheek.
Iron in our word,
Iron in our hand.
Our word is iron, our grip, iron
Cold, certain, untainted.
Our way: a dance, a mesmeric shimmer.
Holding serpents, owl beaked.
Our silent gift a sudden end.
Blue grey the steady eye,
The black red bite of blood,
A howl at the throat, stifled.

We writhe through the night,
Shadow dance and skitter
Inhabiting the corner edge
Breathe on your smooth neck
Assay, test and mark the footfall.

In and out this world
A quick needle sewing new days.
In trance we enter in and out
Flow water-curved, spiral-tuned.

If you do not know our language
If you do not know our ways
If you do not sing the fierce heart’s song,
It will only be fear and endings for you.

Ghosting through dawn’s slice
Nothing but a dream we were
Returning, filtered, fading,
Explained away, laughed off.
It is you are deeply severed,
Surely marked out,
Stripped of doubt,
An offering, a promise.
The sign cannot be mistaken,
It cannot be washed out.
We who were chosen, have judged
And chosen. No backing away.

At dusk it will be the dreams.
At night fall, the voices begin.
The nightjar shall call you,
The fox mark your path.
Delineated, made edge,
An invisible will
You shall move silent,
A hush,
A fireside tale,
A moth’s flicker
A tremor of dust.
There and not there.
Painted warrior.


This arrived late last night. I wasn’t sure which tribe was ‘speaking’, except that it was probably from Scotland. The Picts (Pictii), was what the Romans called these peoples: ‘the Painted ones’, because of their use of body art. Body art was common amongst Celtic and Germanic tribespeople, so the Scottish tribes must have been in a league of their own in this regard. The Selgovae inhabited the Southern Uplands of the Scottish Borders, around the Upper Tweed basin. Their name means ‘hunters’.


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