Poem a Month for May
The panel chose this poem because they liked the way it juxtaposes pairs of ideas - the two counties, past and present, the spiritual and the everyday - but is based on an actual experience and place.
As Ralph explains:
'Alstonefield is a border town, Staffordshire-Derbyshire, Manifold-Dove and it welcomes both. I have never before been in a church like St Peter’s where you can make a cup of tea and share it with fellow travellers including those from the past who were less equal.'
The cups were still wet after the last supper
laid out for the next. A cup of tea
in Longton china, bone and bouncing,
and a Nice biscuit. Thus baptised
you could sit quietly in this kitchen all day,
looking along the aisle, through the chancel arch
to stained Peter with his book and key.
Since the pew-pens and pulpit were constructed,
carved with skill and love, the faithful knew
their place the more you had the more you hid,
the higher the pew sides where only the vicar
could see your sins evaporate.
Or a paupers bench no sides to your pew
no ambition to escape, no absolution unto the grave.
by Ralph Hancock