Their stomachs a bestiary only of grain
during a time of feasting and boasting and meat,
bellies a mush with the barely digested
gruel of barley and rye and buttercup,
goosefoot and hawksbeard, linseed and clover
and knotweed, with spelt and yarrow all a last
gnarl or bit of weight above the waist,
a feeling of fullness near midwinter,
a last meal before being dragged away.
HARALDSKAER WOMAN (DENMARK, 450 BC)
My bones lasted down there, as did my skin
and my insides—but so did the stakes
that were hammered down to hold me in,
so did the weight of more branches belted
across my chest, and the same for a pile
of pointless clothes, since I was thrown in naked.
My hands were clean too, but my body pristine
and even plump from a healthy fifty years.
They didn’t dare to cut my hair
and I was…
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