demesne de ma belle mademoiselle

tired winds whisper through the shutters
breathing  stories into the dust above the fireplace
where once hot embers warmed your toes
now only ash and fallen plaster lie in remembrance

the mottled mirror in its gilt frame has long since gone
the furniture too – auctioned off and wheeled out
on sack trolleys borrowed from the stables
themselves now ravaged by worm and rust

left behind when all had fled this crumbling pile
your white dress and pale skin stalking the corridors
ghostly and forlorn on floorboards unfit to bear
the weight of words that tumble from these walls

I too am lost as I wander from room to room
doors creaking to the push of my hand
filtered sunlight finding the motes of memories
that float in limbo in time’s absence

a bell far off rings and in my mind I scurry off
down staircases to kitchen and scullery
the servant boy who idolised the Mademoiselle
who dreamt of running away with his belle

only to have found himself an old man selling
tomatoes and tales under the lime tree in the square
searching every young woman’s eyes in hope
that one day, maybe, she would return for him

 

The Strimmer

He liked to start bottom left
in the graveyard where

Underneath Lies Interred
The Body of Bridget the widdow of the late
Richard Howell of ffynnon velen
Who died on the 14th March 1763
In the 76th year of her age.

His high speed plastic wires
Scythed through the buttercups and daisies
Sent ladybird legs flying and bees knees
Dislocating with decapitated heads.

THIS Plain stone is here erected
in memory of Phebe Phillips
the affectionate and beloved wife of James Phillips
of Blaentrafle of this parish
She died Aug 22, 1820. Aged 48 years.

In his haste to lay the wildness to waste
He never noticed the mouse tail detach
Or the painted lady lose her wings
Or even the woodlouse lose its house

Forgotten for a twelve month year.

There were two caved in tombs
Where creatures fled and hid
To hold paws over ears as the grim din approached
The shadow of the man darkening the sky
As he moved on up the bank.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF Rees
BELOVED HUSBAND OF MARY DARBY
WHO MET WITH A FATAL ACCIDENT
AT EMPIRE COLLIERY CWMCWRACH
FEB 18, 1949, AGED 43 YEARS
AT REST

He paused to wipe the summer sweat
With a handkerchief from his brow
The two stroke engine idled waiting
Whilst a robin fed on bits and bobs of shredded snacks.

Henry Bodyromb OF THE SMITHS ARMS
THY WILL BE DONE
Also Henry, son of the above
Aged 2 months

With a self-satisfied smile he had to admit
That it was beginning to look a whole lot neater
This patch of land that the living neglected
And parishioners remembered to forget.

“Affliction sore long time I bore
Physicians were in vain
Till God was ples’d my life to ease
And freed me from my pain”

With the dried grasses now levelled
And the gravestones splattered
The sun hung over his head.

But there under foot
Barely six feet down
The dead muttered complaints
Of deathly disapproval.

 

I was reminded of this poem – written in April 2017 – after reading ‘Slabs’
by my poetry friend DJB:
https://djbeaney.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/blog-ten-a-poem-slabs/