Enceinte

The Swan’s head stood proud
From the merchantman’s stern;
Lead painted, sharp eyes,
Sternly surveying their paths of trade:
The ship advanced
Up the swampy shoreline
Looking for the fort on the hill
With goods and provender
For people far from home

Deva Vitrix
Alea iactus est

Today, the bow in the river
Masks where the shore once stood;
Where the hooves of thoroughbreds pound,
Is once where avocets and oystercatchers
Pierced salty mudflats;
Ripairian acres, now reigned by swirling crows
Looping in vast arcs over the Circus below –
The cries of the crowd
Echoing through the ages
Like ripples in the river.

A full enceinte
Commands the heights;
Where once it ringed the Forum
And forts,
Bivouacs and bathhouses –
Where once a wooden stockade stood,
Today, a vertical stone horizon
Tells the stories of ages since,
Digging up through years;
Once, where many were worshipped,
Today it rings the home of heretics –
Broken only by engineers;
And eroded,
Only by the marching soles
Of latter-day invaders,
Capturing nothing more
Than images for remembrance.


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