Benjamin Harnett is a poet, fiction writer, historian, and digital engineer. His poetry has appeared recently in Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Juked, and ENTROPY; and is forthcoming in Hobart Pulp and the Evansville Review. His short-story “Delivery” was Longform’s Story of the Week; he was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in Poetry; and he has been nominated for a Pushcart. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife Toni and a collection of eccentric pets. He works for The New York Times.
THE COINS IN THE GRAVE OF KING CHILDERIC
There are some new birds in the yard.
Among them a pair of goldfinches.
Yellow as flowers or as precious gems.
They land on the catnip: It nods as they do.
Are they eating the seed? We have
attributed it, jokingly—this new avian opulence—
to “the plague.” I work from home now. Instead
of going out, I study. In the pile
a monograph, “The Coins in the Grave
of King Childeric,” what was it, friend,
just an oval in the ground, cocooned by stone:
richness, alone—bones, arched ribs,
grinning skull, some diadem,
a crown. He looks dopey
in the image from his signet ring,
big eyes up, yeah, that’s right, to God!
Isn’t history odd? But no, it was stunning,
what was found: all gold coins, garnet,
and the bones wrapped in a cloak,
three hundred winged insects
fashioned in gold; King Childeric’s
bees. They buzz through the catnip flowers,
on our Russian sage. Insects of memory,
birds, and age.