Coming into a church I can’t help
thinking of Philip Larkin taking off
his cycle clips in awkward reverence.
I’m not here out of habit or curiosity
I’ve filed in with a flock out of politeness
and sit in the stalls feeling shifty.
I want to escape this scripted space:
stained glass stories of suffering, angels’
innocence, kneelers’ fading symbols.
Nose tingling on mildewed devotion
I wonder if, just for mischief, I could
switch a hymn number to 666?
Today a historian, not minister,
holds the lectern – building funds supplied
by the rich to save their souls.
Vaulted chapels glorify the gentry
but time’s snubbed their effigies
and left them nose-less as lepers.
I’m not made for the monumental,
physics not metaphysics catches my awe:
the might of masons, labourers who cut stone
and hewed timber, respect for engineers
who understand earthly stresses
and how to make them hold.
Chris Kinsey has lived most of her life on the Welsh border. She loves wildlife – both creaturely and human and has published four poetry collections: Kung Fu Lullabies & Cure for a Crooked Smile with Ragged Raven Press, Swarf with Smokestack Books, and Muddy Fox has just come out from Rack Press. This poem was written on her first course with The Poetry School, David Tait’s course Every Word Counts.