Vole Clock – by Lynda Turbet

 

Archaeologists can date a site by examining the jaw bones of voles and the marks on their teeth enamel.

 

In layered earth
grooved teeth, chipped bone
measure silent years
tell uncountable time.
The cautious trowel
scrapes, probes
discloses buried fragments
to expert scrutiny.

This mark – a hundred thousand years.

A scurry of ghost voles through the grass –
one, caught by hawk or owl
or dead from cold
leaves its frail footprint on the world
numbers our selfish time
no more than breath
and death an exhalation
a second’s tick in vastness
too huge to comprehend.

 

 

 

After decades teaching in the north of England and Scotland, Lynda Turbet now observes the world from rural Norfolk, and tries to make sense of it all through writing.

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