Winners 2008

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Richard O’Brien (Commended)

Bourne Grammar School, Lincolnshire

Texting in Church

Her fingers skim the keys before the mass begins;
the tone is mute in deference to God,
though those next up the pew still hear
the clicking that she doesn’t try to hide.

It’s Christmas-cold – the radiator’s broken down –
the church looks like a thermal diagram,
sharp pink across the faces in the nave, a molten red
in the two corners where the patio heaters hum

like arsonists’ umbrellas. Halfway through
‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, the choir trills
an irritating descant and she stumbles on the notes
without support; next time, she sings too shrill,

too loud and out of key, as if to prove something,
reflecting as she does on how religion is the cufflink
of the world: ornate, sophisticated, useless,
and that no one noticed when she took it off.

The homily was shit. She came a beat behind
on the ‘Amen’s’; ‘Our Father’ never used
to end like that. She thinks about the last time
that she knelt like this; not in the house of God,

or even in a house; against a garden fence,
half-blind on wine, half past the point of caring
who he was or where he’d been, or if he thought
the wafer was the Body and the wine

really the Blood or just a metaphor; and she wondered
if Cava could be the Blood, if you could buy and bless
the Blood in Tesco Metro, if the vicar got to take
the wafer home, to chew a few herself if she got peckish,

had no Pringles and the village shop was closed.
And she wondered why those boys threw
sharpened stones over her fence, when the wafer, be it
Body or no Body, soggied down to tasteless water anyhow.

Project Details

  • Date February 7, 2015
  • Tags 2008 Change - Winning Poems