Old Sarum

A tourist visit running its course when

September mist rolls over

the plain, lapping at the

crumbled stone walls. Flowery-

spired in the distance, the new cathedral sharp

marks the town, but here within pasture’s

buffering silence I stand at the edge

of the ruined castle, listening hard for spirit unseen—

a prisoned queen in impotent state, the

days of her scheming become salt

scribes and prayers for a glimpse of ocean.


Inspired by NaPoWriMo’s prompt: Write a “golden shovel.” The last word of each line is a word from the first stanza of William Carlos Williams’ “Flowers by the Sea.” Last fall I visited Old Sarum in southern England, where I learned that in the years 1173 – 1189, Eleanor of Aquitaine was placed under house arrest  in that castle (and others) by her husband, King Henry II, after she incited their sons to rebellion.


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