Skipwith

Five miles inland on a clear wide night,
That distant sound, all rumble and crash, is
Kicked by the sandy banks, up and clear running,
Ruffles the grain heads in ditch-edged fields,
Slips between wind break trees, whips
Down cracked and buckled tarmac lanes,
Right through the lights-out village-in-a-line,
Kiss-hisses the rusty iron gate prongs,
Ducks under the locked church door,
Muffled still more by the filthy carpet cut-off,
That shields him from bat dung and spent yellow underwings,
It’s the din of hungry guns and thirsty great engines,
And there’s just enough of it left to lift the cover thrown down for
Cold brass Sir John.

His gauntleted hands, are they raised in prayer,
Or just reaching to rest under a pillow-less head?

Sir John only stirs
In the chancel, oblivious.
Sleeping the rest of the rich-wicked.


∗ Sir John Skipwith was not a very well-liked figure amongst local parishioners in Lincolnshire. He died in 1415 and was buried in the parish church of Covenham St Bartholomew, near Louth where he rests still today under a well-preserved brass engraving in the chancel, protected by a carpet off-cut.

By Diane Seddon

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