Thursday, 27 November 2014

FOOTFALL by Wynn Wheldon

This is an old poem, originally published in an anthology called Shaken and Stirred (2002).  It is set in the old cemetery in Freiburg.  London's weather, and empty paths, over the last couple of days brought it back to mind.  It's a bit wordy, but atmospheric I think.

Freiburg, April 2002

Recent rain, the rich aroma of fungus
and the early unsatisfactory darkness.
The listening to one’s own footfall
as though the only footfall and all other feet
put up, all other heads easy on starched pillows,
easy with virtue if not contentment.
And this head full of its greeds and lusts,
hunched between tight shoulders in the mist,
shrouded, shall we say, as though ashamed.

From beyond, the minster bell tolls the quarter
and all at once this might be any age
in the last thousand years, and I consider nuns
friars and monks, bishops in purple
and the shoeless and the cold and the scholastic.

On the wall of the cemetery, in day-glo pink:
FUCK NAZIS - brighter than the mist-buried stars,
the letters a metre high; a very modern necrophilia.

Death’s dullness: toadstooled graves
and rain-dark headstones, the end of footfall,
the virtuous and vicious dead alike, content.

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