Last week, with a very dear friend I visited Vindolanda, the Roman site near Corbridge. This is a fascinating place, where you can get a real sense of what it must have been like not only for the soldiers to have been posted to such a location far away from home, but also for their wives.
It made me remember one of the poems I wrote, Barren, (reproduced below) in my collection called, ‘Recollections’. Many of the artefacts about which I wrote poems were found in and around this area and in fact the artefact which inspired this poem is a Hare brooch made of bronze and enamel dated 2nd century AD and found at Hadrian’s Wall.
Last night, for a moment, he shone.
I thought I saw him run across the moon.
I took it as a good-luck sign,
a reward because I’d eaten hare
every ninth day and prayed to Juno
and remembered to recline
by the crackling fire after we made love.
But this morning my blood runs cold;
again. There are shivers down my spine
as women cradle bundles to their breasts.
What a disappointment I must be;
what a failure in the eyes of my fine
figure of a legionary husband,
who soldiers on in this desolate place,
where all the emptiness is mine.