Do not expect saplings beneath the mother oak
by saying your bedtime prayers
for the tree may remain barren.
Go to the well tonight, fill your empty pail
and wash yourself.
Let cool water draw tracery on your skin
expose your body to the freckled sky.
Tomorrow this water will be carried to the font
the priest will repeat this ritual.
But before then, at the well in the woods,
pray the bride’s prayer.
Footsteps, spades dig
marks many shapes
ivy path finding
Impenetrable, foliage expand
cascades from the trunk
the net tightens
At its fingertips
ink-pinned seed heads
pen new territory
Do not tie your tunic around the skin of the beach
but tighten the cloth near the mouth of a river
where you can drink from waterfall and well
eat fruits from the sea
Follow the salmon upstream
make a redd, spawn
let them incise crosses
reverse their symbol gospels
Seafarers may bring new gospels
but he who flees on the waves
shall find his sinking boat
tugged back to shore
Copyright © Petra Vergunst 2016
Petra Vergunst is an Aberdeen-based community artist and poet currently working on Church, Chapel, Well, a pilgrimage into medieval life and religion in Scotland.