The church listed slightly during the ceremony.
We nervously declared some things
and thanked the gathered
dead, who clung unspared to pillar and arch
so St Lawrence’s would not lurch and fly
up into the September sky, launching too
our gaily dressed guests,unstrung kites
sailing from pew perches.
It only listed slightly, and the door sighed.
Hymns were bravely sung in the high nave
and we thanked the distantly dead for their mortar hold,
nailing down the old honey-coloured church
with firm and fleshless fingertips, saving it daily
from the water, cold in the river, a horseshoe
into which it all should have rolled, been shod, by now.
Our feet stayed dry in our shoes, my dress afloat only on tulle.
The church never keeled or sank but only listed, only slightly,
and the door sighed.
We said our vows, eventually, and thanked
the nameless dead for not exhaling,
so the walls would not crumble and fall in on the assembly,
all our family and friends, covering us in dust
until we resembled old and forgotten things.
The church only listed and sighed, sighed and listed
and a light chill swept the floor.
We were joined, then, where they had come together,
huddled for safety, the three hundred dead. We thanked them
for their heaviness, still and heavenless, a buttress
of silence, of centuries. We pressed against one another.
We were joined where they had been taken apart.
The door sighed, its arch recalling. We walked out
into September sun, red berries and chimes,
your cuddle-crushed flower,
all our family and friends covering us in confetti
until we resembled new and beloved things.
For the ‘Traces’ edition of Route 57, in partnership with Graves Gallery, Sheffield.