On the streets, priests spoke of omens,
babbling voices in the lock-down Basilica,
laughter rattling out from empty theatres,
a twin city reflected in the rising Thames.
I didn’t waver. We didn’t have the numbers.
I gave the command to march on. Some came.
Most were trapped by age or sex, a strange
allegiance to this border post, a tenderness
for hovels they somehow held as home.
They saw the dust storm spinning nearer,
carrying their own deaths – and the British.
A tally of thousands for that bitch Boudica.
But we left them a marker in memorial,
our destruction horizon: impacted soil,
a trickle of red ash like dried-up blood.
Dig down. Dig deep. It’s soaked in the mud.
Destruction horizon: in archaeology, a layer of earth containing ash, soot and burnt artefacts which denotes a past catastrophic event.