The Wheel in the Cave
The plague year ended
and our winter was hard.
Spring was out there somewhere
but refused to show her face.
We sat beside a fire
in the mouth of the cave;
the distant churn of sea wrack
whispered all around.
By day we scavenged the coastline
for shells and gold and crabs;
the fire’s misleading shadows
flittered across the wall.
You said: ‘A year of three seasons
is like a proposal from a one-eyed rat’
and sat transfixed by illusion
wearing your old cloche hat.
The wheel came to me in a dream -
a message from far beyond.
It chased me down a chalky scarp
as a ghost ship fired its gun.
When spring arrived a madman came
singing a forgotten song.
He ate our food, drank our milk
like a frog croaking in a swamp.
‘How pitiful you are’ he said
‘Reality is an instrument of lies
created by the devil’s dead-beat sons
for their children who will never grow wise.’
We left the cave soon after
with our beds tied to our backs
searched high and low in barley fields
for salvation’s narrow path.
You pledged your love to another.
We embraced on hangman’s hill.
The cave is dark and flooded now.
The wheel, it chases me still.