The massive iron-studded door
slowly inched open: inside
mediaeval gloom softened by the rich
reds and blues of stained glass
and the hush of ancient holiness.
Then a disembodied voice:
‘This is not a church, you can’t come in.’
I see the notice then, a Gallery
of Modern Art. Private. Evidently closed.
Outside, abandoned tombstones slouch
in the long grass, banished like me,
out of alignment.
How does a church
or a graveyard become another place?
I smile at three bent wrinkled women
sweeping leaves with sticks
into enamel pails, muttering
to one another, or to themselves,
or, perhaps comfortingly,
to the dead.
I climb up a slope for a better view
of this edifice, wondering why I
should feel such affinity with a lost faith.
The wind begins to breathe
catching the first fine snow
very gently like a glass toy
turned upside down.
It dusts the tall spire and blows
softly white on the ancient stone walls.
A light mist moves in, dark yew trees
slip gradually out of vision,
and the church that is not a church
stands still, mute, a forgotten beast
in a winter field.