On the final day we came at length to a layer
of packed earth. I made short shrift of it, in slices,
lifting it off with a leaf trowel to expose
a broad, flat stone. Whoever was doing the probing probed
at the stone’s edge till the stick went in
and further in . . . Air breathed
its long breath over my neck; the shadows of clouds
had slid by this time onto the cooling sand.
I bent to it, chipping away at the stone with a chisel – tap
and chip . . . tap, tap, chip – ten minutes
or more the world was only a widening
hole leading into the dark – till one of us fed
a bare light-bulb into the gap, and pressing
my face to the stone (right cheekbone, nose, left
cheek then right again) I saw as they swam
from under the lip of the hole the reds and golds: fragments
of textiles, the shining, painted stucco.
And each person after me, who did the same, each
felt it the same: in turn, in the deep
cave of ourselves, as we looked we were lit,
utterly and for good, like a lover looking
into the eyes of one he will love,
whose hand, reaching perhaps to shoo away a fly,
brushes against her hand and is made precious.

This article first appeared in the 09 July 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Honey, I shrunk the Tories