Climbing a fence
in a Holy place,
barbed wire bit
my little finger.

We didn’t follow
the well worn path.
There was another route,
we thought, before fences
blocked the way:

New barbed wire,
was tightly strung
from top to bottom,
no doubt excluding lambs
but blocking walkers
on another trajectory.

Over one, two,
three fences
by unstable means,
then the fourth pricked me.
Fool’s finger, or Mercury’s;
innocent or canny thief,
take your pick.
Blood covered
in either case.

Not a big cut, just
a snag at the tip
and a scrape down
inside the knuckle,
but the wire found blood.

I sucked and spat red
as we moved on.
One more bog to cross
to reach the road,
we thought.  I wiped some
on my cherry walking stick,
red for red, blood berry juice.

Who needed blood, I wondered?
Sometimes there’s no question,
but earth elementals
don’t always spell it out.
They got their share
of sacrifice.  All I took were
dried heather sticks, and
gave thanks for each of those.

Was it the farmer’s demon,
charged with snaring skin
for the pleasure of a bite?
Was it a taint on my person?
A karmic debt? Or just a
fankle of tangled fingers?

We chose our path and paid
a price.  Not the smooth way,
but by our will we found the gate.
I closed it behind us and we
moved past the chickens
onto the common road.

Two people, a young couple, saw
us emerge and started to turn into the
farm track, as though we knew the way
and had blazed a trail for them.

“Better not,” we said,
“Bogs, barbed wire
and, possibly, blood.
The Bishop’s Walk
is less trouble, maybe better.”
They thanked us and moved on.

We went the other way
to find food and drink;
A very fine day indeed.
Blood clotted and dried.
Pain —  a later reminder
of our pilgrimage,
a communicator of consequence.


[Entelechy, (from Greek entelecheia), in philosophy, that which realizes or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential. ]