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Monday, 16 July 2012

The Parish Church Corpse


Between heaven and hell
down crumbling concrete steps
behind a veil of trailing ivy
to a basement area
and oaken door -
frighteningly left ajar -
and through the door
(both with shoulders pushing)
to a half state
neither tomb nor church
but chilling dark
is where we meet him, him
whom we have never met before -
the church corpse,
laid in state upon a trestle table,
headless in a gown a deeper dark
than lampblack. So we wait, my friend
and I, our eyes' adjustment to
the dark. The corpse is more pro-active: sits
bolt upright, growls at us, his face
revealed now as he pulls the surplice
down that covered it, and smooths
it over the black cassock that he wears.
He growls again. (And no, we have not run,
could not have run.) (And no, we didn't
do that either!) "What's you doin' 'ere?"
Another growl. We see now that the
gown and surplice are both frayed
and grubby. He's still not overjoyed
to se us, that is clear. Did we awaken him?
We made no noise. "Git Moliere,"
he stretches out a hand we fail to shake.
"Grave digger. Factotum extraordinaire.
You've caught me at my passion. I dress up."
And so he does. He has a wild collection.
Old costumes (faux ecclesiastical and others)
hung around his tiny boiler house.
I can't forget the altar overhead.
Approaching something like full consciousness,
surplice and cassock are pulled off -
do they do service as his jim-jams? Now he stows
them, neatly folded, on a ledge.
He growls again. Repeats: "Git Moliere!
But to us he is, will always be,
the Parish Church Corpse Extraordinaire.
We swallow hard and introduce ourselves.

He also has a fine collection of old bones.
He has them in a flour bag, rattles them,
then takes them out and lays them one by one
along the trestle table for our sight.
"All human, boys," he says,
but looking back, I rather think them animal.
"Found whilst digging graves."

He fascinates us both.
We'll seek him out, I'm sure,
all days we can. I'm also sure
that we should not.
We'll keep him to ourselves.
He chats about the graves,
how some are cracked acoss the lids.
On some the lids have moved,
but moved or cracked they stink "the stink of hell".
He has a story for each one,
how each spirit rose
and what the odour signifies.
We'll hear them all, but not today.
Git's a gift - we'll keep him to ourselves.

This concludes my series on The Suburban Village. I have left perhaps my favourite character until last.

9 comments:

kaykuala said...

Somewhat morbid and chilling, Dave! Somewhat weird too. Maybe one has to be to qualify as a 'digger. Very good take. You line up 'characters' that are out of the ordinary but are very interesting. Rounding off the favorite is awaited. Great!

Hank

Mary said...

Definitely takes a special kind of person to 'dig' that kind of work! I enjoyed your Suburban Village series. Are you going to do anything special with it?

Brian Miller said...

shivers...but fascinating surely....this is one of those i would def watch...and maybe listen to a story or two...the slightly odd always fascinate me a bit....

Leovi said...

Fascinating poem! Yes, I like the atmosphere wrap whichthe feelings.

manicddaily said...

Oh my gosh. And what a name - Git Moliere - at first I thought he wanted you to fetch him! (The playwright or someone of that name.) So well told and very compelling (of course) tale. I love your asides as well. k.

ds said...

What a great character! I love the name too, and the fact that he was able to describe the odors of the graves and what they signified. Like the Oracle at Delphi, perhaps he inhaled too many fumes?
Wonderful story. Thank you.

sticker printing said...

Oh My Gosh. This poem is fantastic. It chills you to the bones. A little bit morbid but still beautiful.

Dave King said...

Hank
Yes. it was very weird at the time. More than a bit scary, too. I suppose there was always an element of frisson in our meetings, even after we had got to know him - if we ever did!
Thanks for your observations.

Mary
Thanks Mary. A special kind of person, yes. He seemed to really enjoy it. I don't have any plans for it at the moment, no. Thank you for the interest shown.

Brian
Ah, sound like a man after my own heart. The slightly off-centre, slightly dark
or quirky always interested me.

Leovi
Interesting comment, much appreciated. Thank you very much for it.

manicddaily
The name was part of the fascination, I think. I had not heard of Moliere by then, but did so shortly afterwards from a French man who joined the school staff. Someone has suggested that his name might have been Gite, but he definitely said Git with a very pinched vowel sound. Apart from the name there was nothing to suggest that he might have been French. Thanks for your rather engaging comments on the series. I have enoyed them all.

ds
I love your allusion to The Oracle at Delphi. Yes, maybe, the fumes could explain a lot! Like the thought,it opens up reams of new possibilities!

sticker printing
Welcome to you, good to have you visiting. Thank you so much for your very kind comments.

Carl said...

This was a humdinger! Great way to end up the series.