Red Lady by Baz Nichols

 

out from the black walls of cliffs
and screes

 

their shouldered lakes and sweet water rills
rippling like marram in wind

 

with arms outstretched
the ochre dressings of bones
decline in wave-cut arches
and       menacing ice at its zenith
blanched in carrageen

 

mossed

 

entombed

 

and torn with ragworms

 

here she lies amidst      the thrift and sea campion
reclined at the towering nape of the descent

 

a place to lie      blunt-faced, weather-struck
her dark eye
ablaze with sea salt tears

 

lying cursed

 

amongst the ceaseless squabble
of errant kittiwakes and fulmars

 

 

***

 

This poem was informed by the “Red Lady of Paviland,” Gower Peninsula, Wales . Initially thought to be the discarded bones of a female shaman priestess, subsequent DNA scanning technology determined the bones to be those of a man who died during the Upper Paleolithic era, possibly the oldest ceremonial burial in Europe. In 2009 a recalibration of the test results suggested an age of 33,000 years. Although now on the coast, at the time of the burial, the cave would have been located approximately 70 miles inland, overlooking a plain. When the remains were dated, it was thought the “Red Lady” lived at a time when an ice sheet of the most recent glacial period, the Devensian Glaciation, would have been advancing towards the site; the weather would have been more like that of present-day Siberia, with maximum temperatures of perhaps 10°C in summer, −20° in winter, and a tundra vegetation. The new dating however indicates he lived at a warmer period.

 

***

 

Baz Nichols is an artist/writer whose work is informed by landscapes lost, abandoned,  forgotten and mythic. Under the pen name “Eijls” he presents semi-abstract prose poetry, which takes the form of formulae and incantations, assemblages of descriptive images, and coalescent sense impressions which he sees as “acts of retrieval”. His written work might best be viewed as an ‘attempt at reconstructing a half-imagined past’,  re-inventing and re-mythologising lost places. This often culminates in beautifully crafted art editions, sold periodically to a dedicated audience of devotees.  Read more about Baz’s work here and follow him on twitter here.

Photograph by Baz Nichols

 

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