Ecology of the lichen

We paddle head over ears in a field of yellow flowers,
with only heads surfaced in an unplanned discourse,
attuned, swimming in meadow meandering among
old crypts and tombs.  I mistrust their shapes, their
sepulchral postures made of bath stone, chalked

extravaganza. You can tell, I haven’t yet wrapped bodies
in linen, you smile. It gives a shape like that, and facing
me you cut a sarcophagus out of the moist air crafting
the swift choreography of a corpse, outlining my outline.
These lime stones are hollow, look. We stare through

their tunnels, sliding our hands in their craters for names
and dates, for one or two initials; but none. Have you,
have you done it before? In the bare space only a slice
of a face, fraction of a glare, mouth half open, your voice
slips through. You laugh. Who do you think prepares them?

You dip your finger into a soft headstone coated with deep
pigments of lichen, orange, red and brown.  Like catacombs’
network, complicated under the microscope’s lens. They live
with their photosynthetic partner – you say brushing yellow
pollen off my skin – who produces food for them from sunlight.

by Ágnes Lehóczky

Copyright © Ágnes Lehóczky, 2008. ‘Ecology of the lichen’ is reprinted by permission of Ágnes Lehóczky and Egg Box.

Ágnes Lehóczky is an Hungarian-born poet and translator. She completed her Masters in English and Hungarian Literature at Pazmany Peter University of Hungary in 2001 and an MA with distinction in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2006. She holds a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from UEA. She has two short poetry collections in Hungarian, Station X (2000) and Medallion (2002), published by Universitas, Hungary.

Ágnes’s first full collection, Budapest to Babel, was published by Egg Box in 2008. (Click on the link to hear her read from the collection, and to read more poems from this book.) She was the 2009 recipient of the Arthur Welton Poetry Award and the winner of the Daniil Pashkoff Prize 2010 in poetry. She is currently working on her second collection to be published by Egg Box in 2011, and her collection of essays on the poetry of Ágnes Nemes Nagy is to be published this year by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Ágnes currently teaches creative writing on the Masters course at the University of Sheffield.

Egg Box is a small, independent poetry publisher based in Norwich, run by poet Nathan Hamilton. It is rapidly establishing a strong reputation for its freshness of approach and keen eye for talented newcomers. Click here to visit Egg Box’s website.

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