The Duchess of Mecklenburg straightens her back,
surveys her fellow enthusiasts,
all digging in soft Salzkammergut rain.
She swaps her mattock for a favourite pick,
glances up at the Hallstatt peak
then, rested, tackles the grave again.
He’s close. She can smell him. With trembling hands,
she sorts bone splinters and pottery shards,
sets them aside with the Celtic coins.
She drops to her knees, forgetting her crew,
scrambles then gives a triumphant cry
as she touches his chest, his barbarian loins.
The Duchess of Mecklenburg, an eminent archaeologist, was one of those responsible for excavating the Celtic salt mines in Hallstatt, Austria, at the turn of this century.