Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

2003

mrs jones

mrs jones collected bones
refuse from a thousand homes
the relics of a thousand birds
rattling out a protest rhythm
clicking to the world their angry words

at home she stripped and cleaned and sorted
fragments of the frameworks thwarted
from their plan, (their holy plan)
by purposes indigenous
to great and hungry man

at last with wire and glue a lattice grew
all greywhite shining new
which stretched fierce pinions yearning heartcold
hope to heaven and its
welcome-calling blue

rearing majestically with pain
the marrow-wire took up the strain
and creaking as an owlgod creaks
it shrieked and swept her lino with
the birdweb of its train.

then bending close its many heads
rustling with the thin dead whisper
of plucked preserved poppies
(poppies now no longer red)
her fanciful creation spoke, and said:-

with voice of dust and metal strings
‘oh mrs jones, come to my clacking wings’
as air rushed through the marrow spaces
whistling of other places
conjuring the sound of ghostly feather
beats, a glimpse of plane, the taste of sky
the feel of rain
the smell of lifetimes zipping by.