A Steeple-Climber

by David Morley

David Morley

The Blue Bell Inn on Woodgate in the small hours after Time.
‘I was thinking’, slurs John Clare, ‘now I can turn a poem
I might turn to an even thornier art’. ‘Like hedge-laying
you mean?’ winks Wisdom, ‘There is more coin in snedding
than blotting’. ‘My friend, there are men of merit and name
who pleach whole hedges of words. They call it criticism.
What I want’ – Clare pounds the deal table – ‘is more scale.’
Mishearing, the landlord stumps across with a brimming jug.
‘I just mean’, stammers John, ‘to be taken to heart by those men.
I have been a steeple-climber all my life. Such is my poor pen’.
John glares into his ale. Wisdom flickers a finger toward the ceiling.
He blows a slow column of smoke up. Everybody in the pub
stares and sees what the gypsy has made. ‘There is the steeple.
This’ – Wisdom circles his arm – ‘this is the church and the people’.

Last updated October 29, 2022