#poem #poetry #amwriting #children #suffer #sufferlittlechildren

 suffer little children

it is always the slightly gritty scrape of clarkes shoes on stone
    mixed with the lingered perfume of candle wax and brasso
    and a subtle hint of incense from the high church vicar
         long departed
         to tend richer flocks in greener pastures
which strikes me upon return

at school christmas service we would squeeze into dark wooden pews
    nudging ever eastwards
    to chalk the elbow of the unlucky outsider
    on the damp whitewashed walls
and sing into our sleeves of sock laundering shepherds
    or the magi following the star by bus and taxi
                                                         and on scooter
                                                         bibbing his hooter

later I gathered from a church poster
    attempting to lure my return
    that god is in the smiles of the happy children
but in this church with the vicar and sir
    unamused by boys singing no-A no-B n-C noel
we learned not to mock the headless saints
    but to fill the holes in which their crumbly bodies stood
    with respectful song
at the price of the slipper or the cane

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