Look at me, lingering outside this murdered church
by Jane Burn
Open your lids, you coal-smut, bitter thing. Undraw the blind
that your plunged doom has set in the lead of your eyes.
Too many years of chimneys, licking their filth on your bricks.
Nobody comes to pluck at your weeds. Look at the pair of us,
our caverns unused. Methodists didn’t build for beauty –
face like a mortuary slab, barren grim of harsh white walls,
let me in and I’ll sing you some saints. God, for me has not
been enough. If I am to believe, daub me some vivid grief,
gouge this wasted cave with a burning of Sacred Hearts.
I will treat this bare render with my own crude litter of faith.
You were laboured, foundations up by your devout, by the skill
of women and men – they met and worshipped, passed
the plain, small wealth of the humble plate. Against your shell,
I hear the memory of Sunday School, feel the holy flattening
of my arse after hours spent pressed to the hard-wood seat,
colouring between the lines of Gentle Jesus, playing with
the brittle thin of simple, twisted palm. Thus we were made
by a plain religion. I craved the gibber of rosaries, the veils,
the fondant of Communion gowns, the thurible swinging
the fume of dedication up. The wailing visions of Virgin’s smalt,
the tabernacle with its myth of Saviour’s blood. My prayers
will splatter your emptied crypt with a mess of devotion.
My hymns are huge. I am an exorcism. Am here to spew
my devils at your altar’s feet, did not expect to find
the slam and hasp of ailing Gothic doors. I make
what I think is the requisite sign, poking my relic of belly
and tits. An empty cross to show that I already suffered and won.
Open up, you barred and bolted thing.
First published in Strix.
Jane Burn is a poet, based in North East England.