Serpentine Axe Head (side 1) (ACVMS:2019.114)


A poem by Rachel Carney in response to a photograph of a Neolithic Axe from Mynydd Bwlfa
All we have left of you is this green axe
worn smooth in places, shaped and
wielded over centuries.

But, sometimes, when the wind dies down,
and the birds pause,
your ghosts show themselves,

up here, on these old hills,
searching for firewood, gathering stones,
sometimes your breath comes
back to us, whispering through the clouds.


Reflections on the Writing Process

“It is so difficult to imagine what the Cynon valley was like thousands of years ago, when this axe was used. But seeing this photograph reminded me of the last time I visited Aberdare, last summer, on a hot day, when I walked up the hill behind the museum building, towards the park. It was so quiet, away from the main road, that you could just hear the birds singing, and it is this kind of experience I was re-creating in the poem, thinking about those rare moments when you can almost sense the presence of those who have gone before.”

You can read more about the history of this item on this blog post.



About the Virtual Poet in Residence

This poem is part of a series written during the Coronavirus pandemic, in response to online exhibitions, and blog post research undertaken by artists and volunteers in partnership with Cynon Valley Museum. You can read more of  Rachel Carney’s work during this residency over on the Poet in Residence page. Rachel is a poet, book blogger and PhD student, and she’s also spent several years working in museums. Her PhD research explores the benefits of using creative writing in art museums, and she’s particularly interested in examining the writing process. You can find out more about her work and PhD on her blog.

The Cynon Valley Museum Trust, like so many others during this pandemic, have suffered a loss of income. We are working hard behind the scenes to fundraise as well as provide options to explore the Cynon valley’s heritage, art, and culture, through projects such as this Residency. If you enjoyed this and would like to support us more, please consider making a donation. You can do so by following this link.

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