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Anglo-Saxon Riddle by Iris Anne Lewis

Originally from Wales, Iris Anne Lewis now lives in Gloucestershire. She is featured in Black Bough’s Silver Branch series. Winner of the Gloucestershire Poetry Society competition 2020 and the Graffiti competition 2023, she was highly commended in the Wales Poetry Award in 2022 and Stanza's competition in 2023. A runner-up in the 2023 Gloucestershire’s Writers Network competition, she read her work at the Cheltenham Literary Festival for the seventh time as a prizewinner. In 2018, she founded Wordbrew, a group of Cirencester poets. Twitter: @IrisAnneLewis


ANGLO-SAXON RIDDLE

 

A gleaming goad, bone-slim, blunt-eyed, I was wielded by a woman’s deft fingers. Together we played our part, painted the plight of our people.

We showed in russet and sage, blue and dull gold, sea steeds with hawk wings on the swan road, depicted thanes and knights, ceorls, fighting men with swords and shields, helmets and horses.

 

No man, nor king, can flee his fate. And so, we showed the star, eight-tailed and fiery, coursing the sky above his crowning; the ghostly ships, void of warriors, vainly wandering in a wasteland of waves.

A woman’s spear in woman’s hand this linen lament tells our truth.

With my piercing skill

and my mistress’ art our story will glint through the ages.

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