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Verge 2017 – Chimera

11

The Sexton’s Apprentice

Jena Woodhouse

The carpenter arrived in a deluge,

sent by a friend to replace a step.

Waiting beneath the eaves for the rain

to ease, he said he’d dug graves

in Bucharest ~ fresh from the village

in wolfish times, glad of a place

to lay his head, a crust of bread,

a secluded space to wield his spade

and commune with the dead.

The dead, he claimed, cling to the hope

that the living cherish their memory.

He’d often heard them sigh as they sucked

the scent from funeral wreaths.

Flowers on graves were robbed of fragrance,

such was the craving of the deceased,

but enterprising gypsy boys

would steal the stale blooms, nonetheless.

Once, unaware, he’d bought their lilies

for a girl he hoped to impress,

who flung the white flutes in his face.

The dead have drained the scent! she said.

Drenched, the sexton fixed the step

then vanished, wordless as a wraith.

But for the tread he’d replaced,

I might have doubted we had met.

Perhaps the jasmine-scented rain

reminded him of Bucharest.

Verge 2017 – Chimera

   by Bonnie Reid, Aisling Smith and Gavin Yates