A church on the edge of the world

by Francesca Weekes

There’s this little church, looks a million years old,
lying on the edge of a wood which Robin Hood
and Marian probably wandered.

It’s hodgepodge, patchwork stuff:
trunks of trees, drawn from the forest,
line its walls blackly, and these are Saxon;

the brick is later, Tudor perhaps,
and mud-red as if freshly pulled from the kiln.
The tower, licked white like a lighthouse,

a light to guide approaching tourists:
here, religion lingers on.
When you push the gate aside

it creaks as if you’re breaking its heart.
Stepping into the churchyard,
you feel like you’ve come centuries late.

Gravestones lie, older than language, or almost,
because the words have been rubbed off
by rain, or magic. One is huddled by itself

near the door, remembering an old knight
who fought for a God that was still young.
Scuffed with reverence, it makes you think of

harsher times, when wool was wet and heavy
but all you had, and your shoes drowned in mud,
and England was a little wind-battered island

floating off some wider shore.