Ghost is the second in a series of short poetry films on the excavation of an Iron Age horsewoman’s grave in the steppes of Siberia, her story interwoven with the narrator’s memory of a former lover’s death by suicide. Excerpted from the long poem Ledi (Book*hug, 2018) by Kim Trainor, with original music by Hazel Fairbairn. The first instalment, Integument, has recently been selected for screening in November at the 20th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.
Ledi, the second book by Vancouver poet Kim Trainor, describes the excavation of an Iron Age Pazyryk woman from her ice-bound grave in the steppes of Siberia. Along with the woman’s carefully preserved body, with its blue tattoos of leopards and griffins, grave goods were also discovered–rosehips and wild garlic, translucent vessels carved from horn, snow-white felt stockings and coriander seeds for burning at death. The archaeologist who discovered her, Natalya Polosmak, called her ‘Ledi’–‘the Lady’–and it was speculated that she may have held a ceremonial position such as story teller or shaman within her tribe. Trainor uses this burial site to undertake the emotional excavation of the death of a former lover by suicide. This book-length poem presents a compelling story in the form of an archaeologist’s notebook, a collage of journal entries, spare lyric poems, inventories, and images. As the poem relates the discovery of Ledi’s gravesite, the narrator attempts simultaneously to reconstruct her own past relationship and the body of her lover.