TIDYING THE GRAVEYARD
Malcolm Goodall 8th September 2012 (with acknowledgements)
The clock strikes ten.
Slowly assemble the village men
It's graveyard tidying time – again.
Male bonding time they say - oh please spare me
From curse of modern life – it's all PC.
Women chatter, and brew up cups of tea.
Mankind seeks order, a lettered stone,
Nature invades, reclaims it for her own.
Bindweed, brambles, fallen laurel tree
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee (Genesis 3, 18)
Trailing ivy, nettles, honeysuckle bine
Jesus said “I am the true vine”. (John 15, 1)
Shrubs, boughs and branches fall to the axe.
“I am the vine, and ye are the branches”. (John 15, 5)
Men's work this. Chainsaw and strimmer,
Stout gloves and boots, saws, knives and axe.
Passes time, grow mem'ries dimmer
Retrieve them now with our attacks.
In the midst of life we are in death. (Epitaph)
Stone sentinels their vigil keep
Guarding the mem'ry of those who went before.
Most stand, some lean, a few have fallen flat.
Here's one that's weathered, but still stands:
(the stone has crumbled here)
that's gone, too.
So now we'll never know.
Forgotten both, though ‘twas not so long ago.
A slab of slate from seventeen ninety four
Still reads clearly as in days of yore
Beneath this Stone the Fair is laid
Oh greet her Ashes with a Tear
May Heaven with Blessings crown her shade
And grant that Peace she wanted here. (Epitaph)
The clock strikes twelve.
Time for a pause, a mug of tea
To look around us wonderingly
The stalwart tower stones provide a home
Amongst their joints, for nests of honey bees
Working industriously in the sun.
Out of the strong came forth sweetness (Judges 14, 14 )
Back to the battle, back to work.
Branches whiplash, brambl's scratch and tear,
Hidden kerbstones wrench our ankles,
Grab and trip us, send us sprawling,
Smite our foreheads when we fall.
The clock strikes one.
We all down tools, a weary bunch;
Bruised and battered; what's for lunch?
We have but five loaves, and two fishes. (Matt. 14, 17)
What? Oh, that's more like it!
Fish and chips, bread and butter, and another brew
Revive the tired and hot and bothered crew.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. (Genesis 3, 19)
The clock strikes two.
Collect the wreckage that lies all around
Clear the devastation that we've wrought.
Build up a mountain of a pyre
Anticipate a raging fire.
Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them. (Matt. 13, 30)
The vegetation's green and slow to light
Dense clouds of smoke come puthering out
Foul acrid fumes pollute the air
Housewives shriek, and run to fetch their washing in.
There shall be wailing, and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13, 42)
At last the yellow flames take hold
They blaze and crackle wondrously
Consume the rubbish, dross and mould.
We drink another mug of tea.
The burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3, 17)
The clock strikes four.
That's quite sufficient labour for today
Now trudge off home to soothe those aching limbs
Hot bath or shower, telly, and a can or two.
Peace, perfect peace. (Epitaph)
Hold on! I hadn't finished.
And iodine, and bandages…..
Oh, Elastoplast will do.
And bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine (Luke 10, 34)
The clock strikes eight.
Sundown marks the end of this long day.
The rubbish mound has almost disappeared;
Incineration's nearly run its course.
The dying embers fade
Ashes to Ashes.
Dust to Dust.
Clay to Clay.