Kyrie – The Choir Vestry

1. KYRIE – THE CHOIR VESTRY

(Split into 2 files)

Outside the door lies John Hempton, of this city,

A man who lived by ink and words proclaiming now
In chiselled letters, “Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short-lived care.” Best leave him to his earned
Peace and come into the cool choir vestry where utility
Has quarry-tiled the floor, green-tiled the wall, has set
Up two wooden benches as plain seating, has placed
A hand-towel next the white sink with its one cold tap.

The light that seeps like frost between the netted lead
Is as glazed as the sheen that falls from a corpse-candle.
Its fluorescence as opaque as a northern winter’s dawn.
Its lucidity an invitation to jettison all that is
Not certain.

Shut fast the gate. Repair the wall.
Burnish the black cannon.
Kindle the naked light.
Day and night illuminate truth; the one truth
That appears clear and vivid, even in moonlight.

Purpose is thrust into form. Derry’s gates are shut
Firm. The walls of Jerusalem are raised up.
The Foyle wills itself a blue lagoon complete with
Two ships a-sailing, always under sky-blue skies
A crimson flag is cemented into a blue sky:
Both hang over Donegal’s undulating mountains
Competing with white puff-ball clouds for what space is left
Around the bright heads of the red, white and blue Defenders.

By twilight, by the light of the half-moon, a fact
Light as thistle-down creeps in over the tiled floor
Stretches a revealing mulch over the lucid white-
Ness of the sink, inviting the light-headed to dance on the polished floor.
Tempting the light-minded to tip
Hats before images dulled in the black-backed mirror;
The form and colour of text and crest dissolve into moon-glaze.
Outside, the chiselled letters fill with rain-water.

Poem – Sam Burnside