Rites of passage

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Photo by Stephen Churchus

I was poet in residence at the Jersey Festival of Words this weekend, running a workshop at La Hougue Bie. It’s a Neolithic chambered tomb with a massive earthwork on top of it and a chapel stuck on top of that, in the proprietorial way of medieval Christians. Next to the mound on one side, a small museum with world-class collections of Celtic coins and other artefacts.  On the other side, a Nazi bunker which was the command centre for the occupying forces during World War II.

Clambering from the soil above the bunker is a disturbing and perfectly appropriate sculpture by a former slave worker in the Nazi camps of the island. My workshoppers stood looking at this tortured figure in the sunshine between rainstorms. As they did so, a late butterfly seeking the last of the season’s warmth settled on it. Nature triumphs, even over the worst of what humans can do to one another.

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