After Rosemary Tonks
The Larkfield was emptied and silenced that morning,
the babes who’d joined your chorus scattered across the
Medway, like the children of Troy after the fall.
All citadels crumble, their walls now the dust clogging
the corners of empty cafes; the scrimshaw city that slept on
without you is waking. The lamps of the Bridesmaids
long since melted, the silver-glinted knives dull and displaced.
Dawn blossoms soft golden roses in the shadow beneath your feet,
and you shuffling past your youth into that dressing gown,
and you sprinkling Larkspur in your morning bath, to keep the
ghosts at bay; dignity fades to contrariness.
In the shadow of Johnson’s Iron wings, day-players flock
beside Rochester cathedral, take tea in it’s white-washed crypt,
declare their disappointment in the parochial diversions,
the quaint quarantined pleasure palaces of an UnCity.
Pit-stop players following Dickens’ grand peregrination,
convinced that a few pit-stops in the provinces can
forge a facetious fool into a flâneuse.
Ours were the marshes that were your launching pad,
you joining thousands of waders, as they flew their annual
labyrinth through the marriage-bed of the Thames and the Medway,
and past. You, the prophet, speaking in tongues still thirsted,
deafened by the cacophony of city cuckoos, missed the sound
of your mothers ascent, flew west again, the old way from
Southampton through to Canterbury. Scorched your eyes
after forty days in the desert. Still your husband, your lord and
your god stayed dumb, and so to please him, you, the lark-bride
singing stilled your tongue. Did you, listening to the lord’s
crows and doves, hear the Medway Magpies declaring their
new world, as clever wanderer boys unlatched your armour,
snatched your lightening bolts from the sky. Your tongue
silt-stuck as silver-tongued frauds dismantled your citadel,
brick by brick. For that jealous husband of the bride, our father
binding the lark with light-bands, watching as her final words
burned, joined the ashes and the dust congregating
in the far corners of the new landscape.
The lightening-singed boys sing the new chorus,
there never was any other. Our father;
I shall never forgive you for it.
SM Jenkin has work in publications including Anti-Heroin Chic, As Above So Below, Bloody Amazing, Boyne Berries, City Without a Head, Confluence, The Interpreter’s House, The Mermaid and Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. Her debut collection Fire in the Head is available from Wordsmithery.