Shakespeare and Company, Paris.
A Norfolk Christmas
My father didn’t believe. Together we looked
over the corner where he’d lie: stark lungs
of winter trees, the blank, no-nonsense altar
of flat fields, and peace, he said. This Christmas,
rabbits eat the roses on my father’s grave
and every blade of grass is clamped by frost.
The Saxon church, so old and emptied-
out its grey bones can’t be still, shudders
echoes as I walk inside. But listen: tonight,
under the dark lid of sky, God is flesh,
and his mother guards him like a lioness.
She won’t sleep now. Her hours of prayer
are upside down: the ineffable, infinite
God tucked into her neck; the bloody world
crouched invisible outside. Here, now,
her flesh is his country; her face is his home.
And from that touch of God’s blood to this earth,
here, still stitched into everything, he is.
The grey stone church burns with cold. Fog rises
from the fields like desert heat or incense.
And the stripped branches above my father’s grave
are a tangle of many waiting crosses.