All Saints, Ainslie

Midnight 24.12.78

The censer swung.
And ageless, placeless things were said and sung
and for an hour I might have been
in any of a thousand transepts or
as many years. An hour that seemed
to hang suspended, still as censers when
processions end.

Then time began again
and I was here. The words that ran
across a choir boy’s T-shirt roared
out mutely “UP the Tigers” through the thin,
white cassock-fabric and the dim
uncertainty of candles. Then restored
to now, I watched the Tigers and the brass,
orbed censer pass.

Then like some brown
myopic gargoyle misdirected down
from mediaeval guttering
the Canons kelpie dawdled down the aisle,
squinted at the candles, scratched awhile,
then, peering briefly at the fluttering
recessional of light, he lurched his way
along the nave

and out again
into the first few minutes of the morning. When
the ages fade and leave behind
the candle-light and voices that surround
a kelpie and a tigered choir, no sounds
or transepts in the world or time
are near as here, nor any year or hour
as close as now.



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