TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Now how would you set about that exactly?
I think you’d take the blade in your hand-
With the other hand to guide the pommel-
And drag the point up and down in the stone
And then across and across in the stone.
You’d wear gloves of course. The stone’s resistance
Would jar your arm all the way to the shoulder.
They say it was a crusader did it,
Returned from the war-
As fishermen hang up their nets to the gods,
As sailors hang toy ships from the rafters.
The vicar’s boyfriend left to get married.
His gyppo neighbours expressed the common
Distaste by kicking his back door in.
He chased them out with a power drill.
Christ appears to the Magdalen
On a rural-baroque, 18th century headstone,
And in one hand he's holding a spade.
Not another one like it in the county.
I think the meaning is something like this-
That Adam delved and the second Adam’s
No slouch- but also a man of his hands.
This is the church that I came of age in-
Apple orchards and hopfields round it.
A charabanc full of gyppo hop-pickers
Went through a rotted bridge one season.
Their travelled names are on the stone
In the squelchy ground in the churchyard corner.
I’ve come back here after forty years-
Half of them spent not naming Christ
Except in derision- And you know what I’m doing?
I’m raising my hands to him, asking for work.
My tools? The pen, the pencil, the brush,
But mainly this keyboard I have my hands on.
I imagine he made a thing of it-
The rector there with his book and candles,
The neighbours- the delvers and spinners- watching,
Their children like lambs at play in God’s acre,
Himself in his mail and rotted tabard,
Digging his cross in the stone by the door.