Hagstones have a hole though them, created by running water over a very long period of time.  Running water was supposed to be proof against magic or bad luck.  They were also used as pledge stones, to be held by a speaker to prove truth, and tied to the prow of boats to ensure safety at sea.  That such strong beliefs leave a residue in our modern time should not be a surprise.


Top: from left, Pig's snout, Moore stone, blocked hagstone. Bottom: Doughnut, The Heart, stone in stone


Stone within stone, a seaborne pregnancy
of disparate geological periods intimately merged
some time during the last million full moons,
an impairment to the efficacy of hagstones,
assiduously searched for on Dunwich beach.

Your collection lies in the entrance porch
each stone an icon of a wishful projection.
A pagan token lightly lifted, a replacement void
for the lost enchantment of organised religion.
Each a talisman for hope when found and touched.

Some have names, the Pig’s Snout, the Doughnut,
the Pancake and the Moore, but each was water cut,
a relentless piercing of the stone’s weakest point
that scoured a polished torus from a fault, –
a strength you wish for others under stress.

The exception in your trophies is The Heart –
un-pierced, and with a perfect centred pattern
the graceful  fossil of  a small marine animal
fitting perfectly in your eager finder’s hand,
always warmer than the wave washed stones.

Each discovered hagstone is a sea-bourn gift
an unlinked rosary for your ardent sea-awe,
the force that draws you to the sculptured shore
and speaks in hissing pebbles with each wave
a pitiless vocabulary  in the language of infinity.

If you  die first, I will take our  path to Dunwich
to seed your ashes as I pass, but the long goodbye
will on Coastguard’s ever shifting empty beach
as each stone but The Heart is returned to the sea.
If I go first, fill my steps, seek the Hagstone for me.

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