JOSEPH and the RED WEAVER

Like the legions long before him
Joseph was walking the Wall,
From Tyneside to the Solway Firth
His boots would tramp it all.

From the metalled streets of Wallsend,
Out over the fells and fields,
Shouldering his pack he rambled
Along to Sewingshields.

Such a land of stringent beauty,
Countryside of austere bliss,
Where the Wall seems insignificant
Perched atop a precipice.

As Joe looked along to the West
He saw a blight on his day,
Massing ranks of lowering cloud;
A storm was blowing his way.

He urgently needed shelter
Being too exposed where he stood,
The wind was rising so he must
Climb down the cliff if he could.

The rocks were wet and treacherous
As rain began to fall,
But part way down he found a cave
Running deep beneath the Wall.

A rough passage, narrow and low,
But a perfect place to hide
As lightning flashed and thunder growled,
Joseph eased himself inside.

Surely it should have been pitch-dark,
Yet, deeper he went roaming
Shadows gathered, but never more
Than to a dismal gloaming.

Gingerly Joseph made his way
Ever further down below,
Carefully edging towards where
There came a feint ruddy glow.

At last the tunnel opened out
Allowing him to pass
Through into a crystal chamber
Fashioned from flawless glass.

It was like being inside a gemstone,
Ruby light suffused the room,
And at the very centre sat
A weaver at her loom.

Intent she was upon her craft
As the busy shuttles flew,
Carrying endless coloured wefts,
All of a rubescent hue.

There was crimson thread and carmine,
Cerise and cinnabar,
Maroon, magenta and cherry,
Prussian rouge and realgar.

Cloth ceaselessly spooled from her loom,
Woven with cunning designs,
While the weaver in her scarlet gown,
Long red hair held by the tines

Of rose coloured combs, glanced at Joe.
Just for a moment, that’s all,
But her fiery eyes searingly
Seemed to burn into his soul.

Dreadful terror welled within him
Of the living and the dead,
Without any hesitation
Joseph turned around and fled

Frantically through the passageway,
And when the entrance was found
Clambered recklessly down the rock
And stood trembling on the ground.

The storm had passed, a bright sun shone,
Joe felt he’d escaped the grave,
Looking back at the sheer cliff face
He saw no sign of a cave.

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