Osterley

The hall

is stubborn in stubble,

vertical-board peeling white

to sere grey.

 

It seals time.

Hauntings are democratic here –

those shredded in distant mud

and those who came home,

who returned for merely a while,

slipping off then to heal the comradely draft.

The hall remains, a memorial abstracted,

unpeopled.

 

 

Three chimneys

are all that is prose here,

all that bears a hard,

uncomprehending present.

 

They speak of lives sifted through an ash

of memory,

fleshed in the opacity of time,

and only that.

Kettles on hobs, babes in cribs,

coppers of boiled and tangled washing –

any unfair context

can be made do

for these three chimneys.

 

 

A tin church

is rumoured.

 

In dissipated numbers

fellowship unclusters –

congregated wisps in air.

Whispers of gladness and song.

Rumours of praise.

 

 

Two wedge-tailed eagles

scribe majesty in the firmament,

their lives a plane of fraught joy,

enduring,

despite the old spreadeagle.

 

Two wedge-tailed eagles

stitch the melancholy of summer

to the peril of hope.

 

Osterley, Memorial Hall

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