Stone of North Circle, Near the Cove, Avebury
by William Doreski
Am I more impressed by the stone,
a notched and corrugated haystack,
or by the neighboring oak embraced
by two dozen ivy vines thicker
than my thigh? The oak itself
boasts a four-foot diameter trunk
and looks sturdy enough to brace
an Anglo-Saxon Parthenon.
Here everything’s suspect, houses
cringing inside the great circle,
overlapped by the central and south
circles, ditched and surrounded
by a white chalk bank. Anything
could happen within this space,
in this timid whitewashed village.
Look at the sheep, grazing fearless
in flat and ordinary pastures.
Note the sheep dog. He’s happy
to see me, dashes over for pets
and praise, so proud of himself
for keeping his flock whole and fluffy.
The rotund stone looks dreadful
as some prehistoric monster’s skull.
The crease across its middle
suggests a toothless scowl. It’s watching
the huge oak tree, waiting for it
to die and fall, the vines tearing loose
and dangling like severed nerves.
The village hunkers down and hopes
the stones aren’t as sentient
as they appear. The tree and sheep
don’t care, but don’t realize
the big stones define this circle
to dominate, not to share.
PHOTO: Part of the South Inner Circle of Avebury in Wiltshire, England. Photo by Traveling Light, used by permission.
NOTE: Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles, around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, in southwest England. One of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain, it contains the largest megalithic stone circle in the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.
Author photo by Keene State College