by Brian Taylor
Christ Church meadow
is awash with driving rain
and a wind which bites the skin
and chills the blood within.
Its paths are sticky, yellow mud.
And the Cherwell, brown and dull,
slips ever higher.
Ducks, moorhens, squirrels endure it.
As they endure frost and ice
and the teeth of pike,
the ill-will of dogs
and the harassment of herons.
I retreat to Merton,
and the medieval silence
of its Tower.
Greeted by the bell,
I stand quite still in the chapel
and look to the east
through glass which escaped Thomas Cromwell’s
and still permits a medieval vision.
The Tower grew
out of 15th century wealth,
at the high-tide mark
of a millennium of Christian culture.
Forty years later,
Columbus set sail,
carrying this Christian culture and began
the destruction of the culture
of the New World
(Man’s inhumanity to Man),
inaugurating five hundred years
of poverty and misery
for its survivors.
Here. Now. The peace is palpable,
the chapel empty.
A patient fountain
round which thirsty crowds swirl and turbulate
in the December cold.
They wander along St. Aldates and Merton Lane,
through Magpie Lane and eastward up the High,
trying to appease an undiagnosed,
it does not itch.
Last updated February 25, 2014