The lady of the höyük

On either side the höyük lie
Marshland and Cyperaceae,
That cloth the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the mounds a river runs by
To the many-levelled höyük;
And up and down the people go.
Climbing ladders to and fro
Round a höyük there below.
The höyük of Çatal!

Marsh birds sing and sheep/goat shiver,
Phragmites reeds go on forever,
Marls and clays are gathered hither,
Resources flourish, by the river
Flowing down to Çatalhöyük.
Mudbrick walls and buildings hidden,
Overlook a space of midden,
Beneath the building floors are hidden
The dead of Çatalhöyük.

By the edges, backswamp sealed,
Lies early midden, now concealed,
The cattle graze, perhaps, a field
Where wheat and barley grow to yield,
Surplus at Çatalhöyük.
In the houses, people sweep,
They form deposits, Sounding Deep,
Yearly plaster coatings keep
The walls at Çatalhöyük.

On the rooftops people meet
And piles of rubbish form the streets;
The ash and bones, remains of feasts
When trampled down, the tell increased,
Preserved at Çatalhöyük
Obsidian tools and figurines,
The Mother Goddess, so she seems,
A symbol of forgotten dreams;
The treasures of the höyük.

One thousand years of life unwind
But in the end the town declined,
The buildings filled and left behind,
They left remains for us to find
The end of Çatalhöyük.
But who hath seen the story told?
The mysteries as they unfold?
From beginning to the end behold,
The lady of the höyük.

Sometimes a troop of students glad,
An artist with a drawing pad,
Sometimes a scruffy Suffolk lad
With X ray gun and undergrad,
Comes by to Çatalhöyük.
And oftentimes by mini bus
The Profs come in and make a fuss,
While in the labs researchers cuss,
And excavators they discuss
Entangled Çatalhöyük.

And in the field she would delight
To show the höyük’s magic sights,
And often through the starry nights
A fire burned with plumes and lights,
And music played, at Çatalhöyük.
No longer will we hear the sound
Of daily treks across the mound,
But memories they will abound,
The lady of the höyük.

Photo by Jason Quinlan