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a spot of R. S. Thomas

June 2, 2011

Poste Restante


I want you to know how it was,

whether the Cross grinds into dust

under men’s wheels or shines brightly

as a monument to a new era


There was a church and one man

served it, and a few worshipped

there in the raw light on the hill

in winter, moving among the stones

fallen about them like the ruins

of a culture they were too weak

to replace, too poor themselves

to do anything but wait

for the ending of a life

they had not asked for.


The priest would come

and pull on the hoarse bell nobody

heard, and enter that place

of darkness, sour with the mould

of the years. And the spider would run

from the chalice, and the wine lie

there for a time, cold and unwanted

by all but he, while the candles

guttered as the wind picked

at the roof. And he would see

over that bare meal his face

staring at him from the cracked glass

of the window, with the lips moving

like those of an inhabitant of

a world beyond this.


And so back

to the damp vestry to the book

where he would scratch his name and the date

he could hardly remember, Sunday

by Sunday while the place sank

to its knees and the earth turned

from season to season like the wheel

of a great foundry to produce

you, friend, who will know what happened.


R. S. Thomas, Collected Poems 1945-1990 (1993, Guernsey Press)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Pam permalink
    June 2, 2011 8:54 am

    Beautiful. And uplifting.

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