by Kenneth Steven
The slow creak of the gate clangs –
I stand beyond the swish-swish of the cars,
the heart’s drum clam at last.
The sun emerging like a hedgehog from the mist,
trees sculpted out of silence;
wintered in the distance, made of grey.
Breeze comes and ruffles through the ditches;
the sun is snowballed under cloud
as rain in bits and pieces stings.
Some stones are toppled; the names of those beneath
all smooth and rubbed away –
they do not matter any more, for no one comes
to crouch down close beside with candles,
to wait for dawn with them and pray
their souls have passed into a better light.
Homeless men creep here instead like moles
and cuddle up beneath the lintels, snug –
the living seeking succour from the dead.
They curl inside these caves, carve out a quiet
to sleep untroubled through the hours of dark.
And in the morning, if they are blessed,
the deer come close to scent their breath
and rusty-furred fox-cubs yap and scrabble.
This is a place made somehow more alive
than all the world beyond.