Alessio Zanelli

Dark Ages poem
Howden Reservoir and Dam, Derbyshire, England

Dark Ages

Ranging within the two stone dams
encasing Upper Derwent Reservoir.
Towers and walls as imposing
as early Norman keeps
across the vied-for country had to appear.
As sudden as déjà vu,
the morbid, hazardous impulse
to run lost in the forest
besieging the fern-covered slopes
along the shoreline,
or sink in the cobalt blue waters.
For a moment I seemed
to hear clangs in the distance,
maybe roaming gangs of Saxons and Danes
opposing the late invaders,
in the brave but worthless struggle
not to relinquish power
and submit to the newcomers’ rule.
Thrill and terror mixing in my blood,
the urge of present days
out of the echo of distant times.
A shiver through the undergrowth
and there I am:
back alone onto the bumpy, winding road
outlined by larches.
Just wind and shadows after me,
bend round bend on end.
Whispers from the flanking shrubs ahead:
disbanding warlord ghosts attend.

First published in The New Writer (UK)