Sunday, 6 March 2016

Absent





Dear Reader,

                                                                         A Thatched Cottage


I have been thinking about birds again this week, not seagulls this time, but jackdaws. This is the story.   An historic Tithe Barn in Avebury, Wiltshire, was re-thatched in 2013 by a Mr Ed Coney.  But Mr Coney is now "soul destroyed" since the roof he re-thatched is being pulled to pieces by jackdaws.  The birds have been pulling out the straw for their nests and every attempt to stop them has failed.  Jackdaws are rogues apparently but intelligent rogues nonetheless; in fact a tame jackdaw was taught by thieves to empty a cash machine.  However, they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act l981, making it illegal to kill them or destroy their nests, although landowners can obtain a licence to shoot them to prevent serious damage to crops or livestock.  So for the owners of this Tithe Barn, The National Trust, where everything has been tried from fake falcons to bird-scarers, there seems to be no long term-solution.  A French Cardinal once cursed the bird in the verse history of the  "Jackdaw of Rheims" and it did the trick,  so perhaps a clerical curse might be the answer at the site of this ancient barn.

*

Absent

In this spectral place
there is a sense of desolation,
of God not being here
that strikes icy cold.
In the dank, dark nave
lies a decomposing owl,
a cobwebbed confessional, worn rotten,
and on the battered altar
a smashed wooden cross.

Long ago, did sunlight venture through
the cracked, ruby-stained glass window?
Were bread and wine transformed
into Christ's body and blood? 
Did young men, expectant, marry
young women, kiss, and breathe in
the churchyard's sweet summer air?
And did tears blow away unseen
in the southern mistral winds,
after a service testifying that life was here
in this absent place?

                                                                              *

Very best wishes,  Patricia

1 comment:

Eugenie Teasley said...

I love your countryside stories -- bridges for mice, theif-training for jackdaws... And the poem is bleak and haunting -- I suppose just like the place. Xx