Upon the going back
Upon the going back
to the village chapel,
that beatitude of old ladies,
their quiet reassurance
of having pierced the veil,
for which the pub men in their smoke
had not a laugh
not even for
the grace of the Sunday school teachers.
For they had grown away, as men do,
as we knew we would.
We asked the deacon what is God?
And he said God is love.
We asked the deacon what is love.
And he said love is God.
Then we all walked away.
Now the chapel has a bramble collar,
a thorn crown, bleeding down upon its shoulder.
Grass grown steps
and a rusty handrail.
Windows of dry tears where the flaky paint
pricked as it snowed.
Cannot go inside – God forbid!
But the conspirator crack said look,
see the organ,
that cadaver white in a dusty shroud.
In a rictus of bared teeth, a sneer
where once a wood stained veneer
reverberated to the hymns, and where
cold bums sat hard,
attending the sermons
with a wrinkled brow.
I saw a bird skull white upon a post.
What significance can a poet drag from that?
A child’s feral laugh at a sling shot trophy.
Probably. But still sinister in my dark thoughts.
Is that all this stone box is reduced to?
Even the pub has gone.
The angels and daemons have declared a truce.
Laughed at my pilgrimage to the locked doors.
My nails clawing at the plaster-shorn walls
of the hall where we laughed
at the absurdity of the Band of Hope,
even as we drank it in.
Oh, this bloody congealed dust,
the trespassers on our prayers,
our kicking and flailing at the jungle
of weeds that did fall on stony ground,
and yet have grown to choke the charity,
the swirling veils of the old ladies,
who held our hands
in the snow-light walking home.
How can a chapel become deconsecrated?
Even on the cross the cry of “why?” was suffered.
I leave my shadow to keep watch over
my memories. To call me back should
any of the congregation return.
Piercing the veil – as they say.
To flow with spectral fingers pointing
to the past.
Then I must and will return,
and on our knees
we will sublimate into the billowing dust
as our pasts go crumbling down.
They are singing in the Cymanfa Ganu.
Dear God, why did you let this chapel die?
Ask the deacon, why did you walk away?