Lovernius lies in the peat-swamp, mud-
marrowed bones and mud-licked marbled
Or half of him.
There’s a leg and a
but you still can see where
the tight garrotte has bedded in his neck
and the jugular’s been cut for the rush of
blood to fill the cup the cup running over
after they struck the back and crown of his
poor head with a blunted axe.
Then they twisted the wire (they needed
a knee in his back to get a purchase on it
and thus they broke his ribs). Then they
bled him. His blood was the point. That was
Then they roped him in a chariot – or was it
a cart? – was the blank-eyed goddess
propped at his side? – and they drove him
through the god-stuffed black enchanted night
to the pool by the swamp and they
slid him in.
Perhaps there was observance to the god
who likes his darlings drowned or perhaps
by then they were tired and they smelt the
Romans on the wind and they wanted
the blood-glut over. So they let him go
and the mud-dark waters closed over him.
And you think. Is there anything – oh, anything?
– in this world or the unlikely vacuum of
the next for which you’d swap three axe blows
to the head, a wire garrotte, a knife in the
throat, your body’s hog-drained blood and the
cold stink of brown-black muddy water?
Lovernius lies in the peat-swamp. Lovernius
dances with the golden gods. They stroke
his body, finger the fox-strap on his arm,
cradle the cracked and blackened head.
Lovernius dances with the gods. They
fling him – up! – bones, breast, scarred
throat, skin all lightened of the burden
of its blood, the sad hiatus of his ribs.
Lovernius lies with the gods, the wild-
eyed goddess shifts her golden body,
nuzzles his torn, peat-shredded lips.
the fox man
VERITY LAUGHTON is an award-winning playwright and poet. Her more than 30 produced works have been seen in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, the UK and the USA. They include main-stage adult dramas, adaptations, plays for children and families, radio plays, a promenade community event, and a musical. Most recent productions are Long Tan (published by Currency Press), and The Red Cross Letters. She has just completed a PhD in political theatre at Flinders University. She is a member of the 7-ON group of playwrights. www.veritylaughton.com