Sheila na Gig at Kilpeck
by Gillian Clarke
The ‘Sheila na Gig’ is a Celtic fertility figure carved, in this case, as a corbel stone which is part of a frieze of beautiful carved figures running round the eaves of Kilpeck Church, on the Welsh Borders of Herefordshire. I take a personal, female view of the figure, and consider the bodily upheavals of the birthing mother. In her case, of course, she is a fertility goddess and therefore responsible for all fruitfulness. Inside every woman there is a ‘clock’ regulating menstruation, pregnancy, menopause. I imagine it as a little golden clock, a miraculous mechanism made of perfectly turning gold cogs. There are many symbols of sexuality and birth in the poem.