The bombs blew the tombs wide open
And the bones of the dead rose
into the sky like deathly snow.
Every day I stand here beside
the grave of a child I baptized
and sent to god in the church font.
And the old man digs new holes
where childhood’s joy lay interred
with a gold ring around her neck.
He thinks no one saw him when
Its glint caught his magpie eye
And he decided to pocket it.
Yet Mr Gravedigger worries not
his secrets won’t be inferred
To St Mary’s motley lot
They won’t miss him amid the mud
Or care his blood mixes with soil
not until they too need a hole
in the sum of his thieving toil
where bombs fell like ungodly hail
and committed both our souls to hell.
©Talia Hardy 2014
© All rights reserved by Alexander
From 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 it is estimated London was levelled by over 30,000 incendiary devices. Numerous lives were lost in the blitz and were buried in cemeteries not decimated by missiles. It was not until the ceasefire that church restoration began and new burials recommenced within parish churchyards that disinterred mortal remains were discovered. And, as the poem implies, as the dead gave up fragments of their lives so too committed to the grave were the secrets of the living.
In the new millennium cremation outranks interment and many of the affected churches which became redundant due to cultural shifts and population migration are used as alternative spaces—spaces with the possibility of divulging darkness if the walls could talk.