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Penelope Shuttle:Two Visits to the Men-an-Tol
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Two Visits to the Men-an-Tol, West Penwith, Cornwall

Ishmael's Shaft, Hard Shaft and Robin's Shaft,
long disused now, mere falls of shadow and air
into tunnelled earth, wickered-over with keep-out lids,

but the abandoned engine houses around Bodrifty
and Little Galver glitter charmed lives in holiday sun
under a clear wildblue sky as we approach

the stones moored in the moorland;
years ago, on our first visit, mist looms
wove and unwove luminous chilly muslins of fog

over the gorseland
out of which the three stones suddenly blossomed,
two waist-high pillars, to east and west,

and between them,
forever motionlessly circling,
a holed stone big enough for anyone to look out or in,

holy stone and her two sentinel sisters.
(Who said at night they run to the river and drink,
or dance across the brazen moor,

hopping over the laid-stone hedges?)
Twenty years ago I clambered through the maw
of the mother stone, entering, travelling, exiting

three times,
the rabbit-mown grass scratchy on my knees
as I crawled through, against the clouded sun

through this granite polo-mint mother,
or giantess-bracelet of stone,
cervix-anchor steadying me in a sea of mist and gorse,

the mass of her cold and rough to my touch,
like a fallen moon, stone ball of string,
ravelling and unravelling in stillness -

winding thousands of years of healing,
fertility and divination invisibly around herself
and her attendant pillars -

I threaded myself through the pierced stone,
my child within me not to be born for seven months yet;
fertile I was, blessing for the child I sought,

safe passage -
for first comes blossom, then bud, then fruit -
hoicked up into the world via meticulous hospital panics,

she arrived unharmed; and years later, at noon,
at the hot height of May, the coconut scent of the gorse
outfragrancing the salt of the sea,

drifting the yachts along in perfumed gales,
my daughter plunge-wriggles, coquettes and corkscrews
herself through the granite 0,

the ever-open place's massive orbit:
now it is she who will carry the cornucopia,
roped in her turn to earth and the spring.

Penelope Shuttle*

* Thanks to Andy Norfolk on the Stones List for posting this poem and also the following -

"Penelope Shuttle was Peter Redgrove's partner and they wrote a couple of books together, e.g. The Wise Wound."

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Posted by Littlestone
8th November 2005ce

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Megalithic Poems (Littlestone)

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