Issue 9,  Poetry

To an Inhabitant of Çatalhöyük by Lucy Whitehead

A room sunken now and hollowed out,
my bare feet rest on the cool grey clay
of your plastered house, as bronzed
bodies move in a dance of trowels
in the spaces where you once lived. 

I am trying to decipher the peeling 
blood red fragments of your art, 
hunting for bull and deer, leg and spear,
while under my soles your loved ones wait, 
bones stained sepia with mudbrick. 

All around I hear the hum 
of other archaeologists busy 
with clipboards, cameras, pencils, string, 
in the bustling honeycomb of your buried city.

(Based on my experience of working at the neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey in the seasons from 1997 to 1999. The houses at Çatalhöyük were also used as tombs, with the dead buried under the floors while people carried on living above them.)


Lucy Whitehead has a BA in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Art History and Archaeology from SOAS University of London. Her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Broken Spine Artist Collective, Burning House Press, Clover and White Literary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Mookychick Magazine, 3 Moon Magazine, Parentheses Journal, Pink Plastic House, Pussy Magic, and Re-side. She lives by the sea with her husband and cat. You can find her on Twitter @blueirispoetry.

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