She wears a torque of beaten gold
wrought with somniferous poppy pods.
She tips the urn towards amaranth sunrise
pours the gods their due libation.
The light spreads across the roused lake
stroking swans, ducks and grebes.
She adds the requisite herbs:
rosemary, meadowsweet and sage.
The reeds are etched against the dawn;
the warblers flit from leaf to stem.
She stirs in clear brook water,
fetched from beside the narrow bridge.
The brook fed by the shimmering lake
runs singing over smoothed stones.
Drop by careful drop, she stirs the last ingredient:
the white milk of fresh-crushed poppy seed.
She shows the chalice in her right hand,
in her left she holds the ear of barley.
Fasting the people wait. They have seen
the harvest returned again this year.
She hands the barley to her Kore;
she gives the chalice to her Kern.
Her right hand lifts her javelin and holds it high;
her left hand displays the sacred Epona ring.
There she stands, mistress of water, bread and wine.
Her gaze sees through them. She gives the sign.
*Prior to the widespread cultivation of the vine, wine formed the focus of exchange for nearly two centuries in Gaul. Wine became the drink of warriors.
Helen May Williams is Associate Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, The University of Warwick. She is completing an edition of memoirs by her late mother, who worked at Bletchley Park and for E.C.I.T.O. Her poetry has been published in a number of small press publications since the late 1970s, including Hearing Voices, Horizon and Raw Edge, I Am Not a Silent Poet and the collection, Bluebeard’s Wives, Heaventree Press 2007.