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Old Croghan Man

PUBLISHED: March 2, 2020


… their nipples were cut, thus rendering them ineligible for kingship … the suckling of a king’s nipples was an important gesture of submission.
—Eamonn P. Kelly, “An Archaeological Interpretation of Irish Iron Age Bog Bodies”

Only a torso now, the head
long severed from the neck, pelvis
twisted off like a stubborn root.

Remember the worn jacket
of his body pressed
in the bog; above, the galaxies

of cotton grass turned 
inside out, like little souls
among the eyebrights,

the stitchwort. No place
to leave a man alone.
And under each nipple

a deep incision, blade width.
Even then, they needed boys
like me—to leave power

in our wake, to dip our heads
and take to the soft 
pink mound. I would have felt,

then, the making of a king;
known God, through my lips, 
entering the body.



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