He thought the moor would never end.
He ran until his feet were raw,
Until he left a trail of blood
Congealing, black as caves at night.
This freedom broke just like his heart:
It severed joy and shattered veins.
He ran until the hurting ceased,
Until he had no more to give.
And there just where the bleeding stopped
The moorland track had turned to grass,
And reached the edge of high sea cliffs.
He stopped and stared into the waves.
The ocean heaved and rolled its dead,
The waters grey and thick with lead.
The seam runs through the field, beneath
The wall, beneath the house, beneath
The fear of darkness and of loss.
The seam is deep and rich and wide.
Around the Earth, throughout our time
The seam is dredged and scraped and blown.
The fires it lights explode the night.
The dressing floors are never still.
Beneath the moor the tunnelling spins,
Beneath the wilds made wilder still,
Beneath the need to feed the fires,
The need to feed the landlord’s will.
It merges, weights and drags us down,
Malformed we’re trapped: part beast, part god.
Up from the sickly flowers of lead –
Whose blueish petals pale and drooped
Are soaked in black and matted blood –
The horns of consecration rise.
A liminal state of recompense
For ancient slights in sacrifice:
A creature born to neither form
Is left to wander through the dark.
Galena glints and burns within.
The furnace tipped towards the south,
And molten metal flows through time:
The monster slips between two states.
The flowers are gathered up and crushed.
Amongst the mines a new bull reigns.
Across the moors in evening mist
The keeper drifts by candlelight.
His coat as dark as sodden peat,
His eyes as empty as the stars.
The burning fires around the works
Can’t drown the moans from deep below.
The keeper traces Saturn’s path,
And whispers soft protection prayers.
He walks on by the shattered men.
Unseen his candle flickers on.
Three thousand years and more he’s been
The keeper of the fear beneath.
He looks at Taurus through the mist,
Its horns are hidden, the moans are stilled.
The linnets gather on the ling
And watch the knitting party pass.
Another morning thick with dust,
The men and women click and cough.
The ponies start their circling trudge.
A pipit rises then is lost.
The children gather at the pit:
One spits his blood into the sedge.
And from within the moaning starts,
A roar so deep the slagheap shifts.
The children by the ladder shake.
The knitting party help them down.
Their sacrifice will never still
The Minotaur’s half-human lust.
They saw the beast and not the man,
Forever circling: hooves and feet.
And lowered down and round and deep
They heard the moans and not the grief.
They sucked the poisons from below,
The core of earth, the heart of rock,
The seams of endless, twisting stone.
They opened sluices, stoked the fires.
They built their world to last through time
On lungs of arsenic, fields of lead.
And in the galleries, banks and schools
They built their wall around the dead.
But now within the maze of mines,
The beast and man as one arise.