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:

 

Here lies…

                                (the stone has crumbled here)

Relict of…

                                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.

 

Oh, sorry.

 

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

from red

to grey.

 

Ashes to Ashes.

 

Dust to Dust.

 

Clay to Clay.

 

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