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THE OFFICE OF THE DEAD

The ruined, twelfth century limestone chapel

is Grade II Listed and the land owned

by the Welsh Assembly otherwise

it would have been converted into

somebody’s desirable holiday home

with views south through the empty windows

to woods and north down the moor’s sheep-cropped slope

across the sweeping, wind-surfing bay.

 

Who built the original chapel –

and the small side chapel with a vault

in the sixteenth century – or for what

specific purpose no one now knows.

For a time, in the eighteenth century,

local gentry used the place for private worship

then left it to the wind and their sheep.

The roof has gone and a boundary wall.

 

Maybe the original builders

hoped St Patrick would be wrecked again,

this time on the bay’s deceiving rocks –

had the altar ready for him to dispense

the body and the blood, to preach the faith

of fear and guilt in that hieratic tongue.

‘Peccantem me quotidie…Timor

mortis conturbat me..Deus, salva me.’

 

Not far from the chapel and next to the road

to the shore is a limestone cromlech,

its twenty five ton capstone placed on eight

two metre megaliths – each a metre in the earth –

perhaps five thousand years ago, and aligned,

like the chapel, more or less east and west,

and as enigmatic. We know nothing –

names, number – of the people buried there.

 

‘The fear of death confounds…’ Their remains

are catalogued in some museum

along with the pottery shards found by them.

A small child, a girl of five or so,

is flying a kite. It flutters noisily

like a prayer flag or a temporal banner

above the scant, abandoned chapel

and the emptied cromlech.

 

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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2 Responses
  • Clive Watkins
    March 15, 2018

    “A small child, a girl of five or so,

    is flying a kite. It flutters noisily

    like a prayer flag or a temporal banner

    above the scant, abandoned chapel

    and the emptied cromlech.”

    …Yes, David!

  • David Selzer
    March 15, 2018

    Thank you, Clive.

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