The StakeA Poem by David Lewis Paget
The dig was held at Sozopol
Beside the Black Sea shore,
Where Iskra Angelova
Came parading, past my door.
She asked me, was I Stevens,
From the Bramling Institute?
But my eyes were full of lips and hair,
And so I sat there, mute!
She had those Slavic cheekbones
And those bright, wide honeyed eyes,
And a smile that told my fortune,
Partly truth, but mostly lies,
And I knew we’d be together
While we foraged at the site,
So I smiled at her in greeting,
And her eyes beamed in delight!
‘I’m glad you’re so much younger
Than that pesky Androvich,
He’s a fusty Russian scholar,
Dull as water in a ditch!’
And she laughed, we laughed together
For I knew just what she meant,
Though her English wasn’t perfect
She could hold an argument!
Through the days and weeks that followed
Digging dirt and sifting bones,
In that medieval churchyard
Full of grief and standing stones,
We worked side by side together
In the graves, and touching hands,
Me, the western anthropologist
And her, from eastern lands!
So the first kiss was much sweeter
Than of any I had known,
And we struggled in the darkness
Of my room, once left alone,
For her appetite, voracious,
Was demanding to the core,
As she wrapped herself around me
I would dread her whispered: ‘More!’
I was tired and not quite with it
When we came upon a sight
That had Iskra sitting, trembling,
She crossed herself in fright,
For the skeleton beneath us
Had a stake right through the heart,
So I knelt, and then unthinking
Grabbed the stake, pulled it apart!
She went white, jumped up crazy, screamed:
‘You don’t know what you’ve done!’
As a cloud, way up above us
Moved, and blotted out the sun,
While I sat bemused and staring
At the iron stake I held,
It was rusted, red with ochre
Or with blood - I couldn’t tell!
Then Androvich came over
And he grunted, and he moaned:
‘You’re not to touch not anything
Until I’ve seen,’ he groaned.
‘Just give me…!’ and he snatched
The rusty stake from out my hand,
‘You westerners know nothing
Of the peoples in this land!’
That night I watched as Iskra
Wandered out along the beach,
I knew that I’d done something
That had put her out of reach,
She wouldn’t listen to me
Or respond to what I said,
But then she turned toward me:
‘You have gone and raised the dead!’’
‘It’s only superstition,’ I began,
But then she cried,
And went off to her room and
Locked the door, left me outside,
I heard the passage door creak open,
Then an awful shriek…
I found Professor Androvich
Next morning, on the beach!
His throat was torn and mangled,
Though there wasn’t any blood,
His face pale white and shaken,
But one thing I understood,
The stake that he had taken, now
Was thrust - it made me wince!
But Iskra, she was nowhere,
And I haven’t seen her since!
David Lewis Paget
© 2012 David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget
Moonta, South Australia, Australia
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