In a Valley of Many Ash Trees
In a Village of Many Ash Trees
Palm Sunday 2014
the clock of St. Leonard will tell only
one time. Two minutes to eight.
a shattered sunlight catches on
gravestones, hides names from view,
keeps the late of this parish, secret;
causes you to struggle as you read their fate
in polished marble or mis-placed lead letters.
Sad tales of eyes that never opened on the world
or cast a glance at siblings who made it
to eleven months or the maturity of ten years.
Floral gifts of spring-flowers sway
in the breeze, add brightness to the end of a day
that has become bone-cold. Pebbles and
slate are placed by the graves of some, and
names, not obviously Jewish, beg more questions.
Is it a copied sentiment or a stand-off against
Paganism, or neither? Is it perhaps a way of
remembering the past and those who filled it,
or a way of making a sorrow easier to bear?
Time moves on, but for those here resting
it is constant. They are all of an age, thirty years.
In life, a peak; in death, a life everlasting.
These beliefs are older than St Leonard, older
than the good man from Limoges remembered in
They are as old as the first
Palm-Sunday when a man rode into Jerusalem and
heard ‘Hosanna’, even then knowing that
the praises wouldn’t last, even then knowing
that his time was approaching,
that he was being called home.
The wind drops, and now
a faint sun takes away the chill
as evening beckons.
The hands on the clock are still.
It will be two minutes to eight
a while longer.
* This poem, as the first stanza tells, was written a few years ago. It was written on Palm Sunday after a visit to Monyash in Derbyshire, and the place gives the poem its title. As with a lot of writing you never know which way they will go, and poems especially, I find, take on a life of their own. I have added this to my blog on here, today, Good Friday, as it seems appropriate both for the season and the strange times we are living in at the moment. Keep safe one and all. x