Westminster Abbey
by Emma Townley-Smith


There is something Druidic about
Organic ornamentation that sprouts
Ceramic seedlings and aubergine,
Golden, Latinate chambers built on bones.

I watch the priests strutting
Up and down in rustling robes
With walkie-talkies, as though this
Will keep us from belonging here.

If I told them my grandfather’s name
Was de Vere, they wouldn’t believe me,
And neither would I, for my Henry
Lived much longer ago than that.

I rub my toe into the contours of his name,
Try to tell him telepathically that I am here.
I have the strangest impulse to lean down
And kiss the polished stone.

It would be a noble kiss – the kind a man
Gives a lady on the hand, or the kind
A firefighter father would press thoughtlessly
On a child’s head, feeling her shake against his ribs.

In the Poet’s Corner, I murmur words to myself
And pretend that I know Hardy, Chaucer
Browning, but all I can think
Is “the night is wonderful.”

When I dance quietly on the grave
Of D.H. Lawrence, my father
Tells me to stop being
Disrespectful, but I tell him
That David would have liked it.






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