Corinium Cockerel was written and performed by Dan Simpson
Go, cockerel: I send you away from my household
and into the next world with my child
she, who was so fond of you in life
demanding to hold and play with you
at every moment of the day
from her waking cry at first light
to her softly-breathing sleep at night.
In some ways you are alive
animated by the craft of the bronze-worker
his hands shaping the prideful curve of breast and wing
the definite fix of comb and wattle
the lively detail of eye and beak
but it was my child who – like some infant Pygmalion –
breathed life into you through her love.
And yet more than this – we all gave you spirit:
in the hollow of your back you hold memories
household stories of a mother’s love
everyday moments of a father’s affection
sounds of siblings’ teasing and laughter
the clash and clatter of an entire household
turning our villa inside out, trying to find you when lost.
The dark shade of night’s sky lightens to deep blue
after this profoundly long and severe night
and I remember that you are Mercury’s creature:
heralding the coming of the light with a cry of triumph
a message from the gods that a new day is here
that we mortals are not forgotten by the gods
hope rising as surely – and slowly – as the sun.
Speak for me now, you who may speak freely with Mercury
tell him of my child who can no longer see that light
nor feel the first touch of Sol’s warmth
put my anguish into your crowing
give voice to my grief where I can not
so that the gods may know
something of mortal suffering.
Tell Apollo that his medicine does not always work
and that Mors has eager teeth to take one so young
crow for her who can no longer cry
and charge Mercury to see her safe
in her passage to the afterlife
where I may see her again one day
holding you, cockerel, as I hold you now.
The background image is of a mosaic from Pompeii depicting a cock fight. Image courtesy of IMAGO, The Roman Society Centenary Image Bank - http://www.romansociety.org...