And her breath

Muddy bog land wet through
but bent to it for days

her long trench a shallow excavation
of centuries of bed deaths

her quick-wristed sieve-shook remains
find recovered fragments of time

and each is labelled packed away
so many partial discoveries of

ancient runes a man or woman
unknown until fully examined:

The whole skeleton the hip width
the relative dimensions

of her brittle find lain out cleaned wiped
for the experts’ opinion

and she will hold her breath but continue to dig
until the sex of the dead is given.

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