Romney Marsh, Kent, February, 1287
That night a slice of moon rose, mottled red
like a scratched wound. The sea was torched, wind-charged.
We heard the tide roar twice across the Marsh
and knew it was here, the hour of the dead.
Hulls creaked. Roofs lifted. Churches sunk. Great oaks
were wrenched from roots. Rivers swelled in ferment
until they became our streets. While we dreamt
the earth shifted in shadowtime. We woke
to find oceans where we’d once farmed. Islands
landlocked. Hamlets now great ports. And our town
lost to us, buried like some secret shame
beneath a crookbacked bank of bone-packed sand.
From beneath I smooth your prints, pay the debt.
And I whisper. I warn you. Watch. Your. Step.
Josephine Balmer’s collections include The Paths of Survival (Shearsman, 2017), The Word for Sorrow (Salt, 2009) and Chasing Catullus (Bloodaxe, 2004). She has also translated Catullus, Sappho and other classical women poets (Bloodaxe). Further information can be found here.
Note: In ecology, shadowtime is a sense of living in two distinctly different temporal scales simultaneously; an acute consciousness of the possibility that the near future will be drastically different than the present.