Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tragedy in Paris

This poem of mine was highly commended in this year's Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition by judge Kim Moore. It treats the complex and complicated political reactions which can result from tragedies such as yesterday's; understandable reactions but jejune and not entirely desirable.

Song of a Maid

Aged eight it came to me in a dream
I had been Joan of Arc in a previous life
and at twelve a tarot reader off Charing
Cross Road, with lightning and rain

smiting the pavement, confirmed it.
My spread was a fascia of swords and staves
and all the war-making cards with faces.
God appears to have forsaken me in this life:

I cannot ride a horse or speak French.
The closest I ever get to wearing armour
is my corduroy duffle coat donned on a turbulent day.
I visited an earl’s great country house so

I could touch his ancestor’s steel breastplates.
When nobody was looking I left the smears
of my fingers and palms. Babysitting
is the highest service I have risen to.

I am fourteen years old. I feel time running
away like a spoilt dog. One child I mind
Oliver, has curls and luminous eyes
of lapis lazuli lifted from a Medici tempera.

His nappies reek of myrrh and frankincense.
And with a shirred gaze he stares often
beyond my shoulder in awe. If I could turn
fast as light, I know I would see the Virgin

waiting for the moment to speak, to intone
on the will of her Son; on what I should say
when I call on the Queen or summon
David Cameron or when Francois Hollande

seeks out my counsel. Then I will need no horses.
A helicopter gunship will be my chariot
and I will venture forth to dispense
God’s indubitable works.    

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