A man’s found beneath a car park. He’s not
the only one lost under concrete. In sterile rooms
relatives offer DNA, hope for strands of hair.
We unearth bits of bones with tractor wheels,
brooches in tree roots. They are flimsy, uncertain
as loyalty. We manoeuvre around them,
turn over their meanings like armies
assembled on hillsides, sniffing the breeze
for the winning side. In the soil
the leather harness of a lost horse,
by a ditch a hawthorn. In the village churchyard
all the unnamed, given the heave-ho.
Five hundred years on, we trust our violences
will be excusable. We’ve ordered a cortège,
an oak casket, burial in a cathedral.
This poem was first published in Issue 3 of The Poets’ Republic