My Favourite Place


I could do that!
Raise this roof,
Jericho these walls,
rattle these rafters.
From pulpit’s tower,
black gown,
neck height white halo
creamed by candlelight,
bring down wooden angels
to settle in the dust,
make gargoyles smile.

I could tell you
what is good
and what is bad
(especially what’s bad.)
Get into Ezekiel,
invoke fire and brimstone
to ricochet these walls,
apocalyptic horses
to thunder through the dust
and angry angels
dispensing wormwood and woe.

Yes! Yeees!
I love these places
(come all the time
when the doors aren’t locked).
Ferneaux Pelham,
‘Time Flies. Mind you business’
emblazoned on the tower.
Wallington’s woodwork
worn by centuries of hands
like half sucked lozenges.
Old Warden.
Every visible wooden surface
carved with snakes and Saints
and gospel tales,
(some fallen to the thief).
Trinity’s knobbled fingers
clawing at the sky.
East Hatley
abandoned and buried
in a green ivy gown.
All the churches in this spired land.

I love the fluted columns,
vaulted roofs like upturned boats
flagstoned tombs
name’s worn down by shuffling soles
and crazed by saints
filtered through stained-glass.
Stone knights in armour
prone on marble tombs
their praises finely chiselled.
Plain stone font.
Death and life together.
The bones of sad tales
glimmering on world-war plaques,
repeated family names
that hint at the heartbreak
left behind.

Can you hear
old sermons hissing in the stone,
ancient organ grumbling,
choir’s certain, silky, voice,
congregation struggling for high notes,
preacher’s dirge,
whispers of the dead?

Oh Yes! Oh Yeees!
This place should be full,
bursting at the seams.
What it needs
is a real bible-belter.

But I
wouldn’t be allowed.
Don’t have the credentials,
have flown the penance,
haven’t paid my dues
or bruised my knees.
When my time comes
will you spare me space
outside among the stones
close to my favourite place
to rest my bones?


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