A Kind of Quickening

by Pauline Stainer

Put your ear to the quoins.
You might think
a redundant church
would be loud
with the sound of silence,
but sacred cantatas
rise to the spandrels.

Look through the squint.
St. Mary-at-the-Quay
in her field of windscreens,
where crane-drivers
glide over the hammerbeams
as if sighting eternity
seawards.

Smell the mown grass
in the roofless nave,
when children circle-dance
like Wisdom before the Lord
until the sea-fret rolls in
and they pull-up
their pearled hoods.

And the weepers on the tomb –
do they look up
in sunlight
as we repair the fabric,
salt-laden limestone,
an altar frontal
transfigured by the silkworm?

We still celebrate
the energy of otherness.
That shadow on
the lime-washed chancel
not simply Christ
as makeweight
on the flowering tree

but a jazz-singer,
dress blue as hyssop
against the downbeat dusk,
while on the skyline
wind-turbines turn
to the preaching
of the swallow.