The focal image arrived in my head one late, rainy afternoon while driving home from school—in my memory I recall we discussed the European Dark Ages—this could be a reinvention, a blurring of the event, but it suits the theme expressed in the poem. The element of a self-produced hairshirt exists in the opening stanza:
Once the page is uploaded by the editors I will post a direct link to the full poem.
He wears his failures
as a hair-shirt— laced with layers of coarse
Tuscan boar bristles, the inner lining braided
with a series of Russian olive tree thorns
and strands of unwashed wool from a black ram.