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Slave woman, the Oseberg ship burial
by JOANNA INGHAM
Centrally placed on the ship were the skeletons of two women. The connection between the two women is unclear; it is possible that they represent the remains of a noble woman interred with her sacri ced slave.
I
The dawn she died she called me close said you are my most precious thing
I cannot go without you. The men
have made us a bed where the mast should be. I slip between the covers
in plain sight, take the hand I loved for thirty years. The hides are warm but you don’t feel it. Around us your mighty husband’s ship
is adrift at last on a wide earth sea. It longs for salt as I long for you. Soon we shall set sail, chart a course over waves of calm brown furrows to the place you are waiting for me.
II
They are killing the cattle  rst.
It takes a herd of men to hold her, the prize cow, rowanberry red.
She is like a sail in a  erce wind.
They lift her high into the ship, the horses strain against the ropes
The dogs are howling and the sound is me
I am a throat too
please
III
a breath
I do not
I
their blood slams into the earth over and over.
My mother calls me from our own land
I will polish the sleds, the best and the second best
and the third, shine their curving treads till they smell of ice.
I will wrap her combs, their sharp bone teeth, parcel her hoops of gold, gather needles of beech.
I will dress her body, that leather sack, and spit. Plait her hair the colour of piss in snow.
Then I will rest. I will not clean nor stitch nor bake nor serve nor stoke nor help her rot.
JOANNA INGHAM is 41 with one young child. She lives in Watford, and writes quite intensively during term-time – and not at all in school holidays. Technology is a great distraction, so following a few mentoring sessions, she now switches off internet access on her computer and leaves her phone downstairs while she works upstairs. Her poems are widely published, including in Best British Poetry 2012 (Salt), Magma and in the Poet’s Corner in the Sunday Times.
mother
father
28 Dec/Jan/Feb 2017/18 mslexia


































































































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