Squatting on the churchyard wall,
drawing board at arms length, clenched
in left hand, resting on my knees,
water colour blocks and water on the wall.
Pens and inks and brushes there
in generous supply.
I'm drawing the great yew
and the magnificent West Front
in broad and simple strokes
to emphasise the church's permanence,
its solidity of form,
against the frail longevity of yew,
when I become aware
of youngsters gathering behind me,
edging forward nervously.
Hey, Mister, that real sky aint brown!
and that there tree's not purple!
Why you got your colours upside down?
(I wonder: does he realise, the surreal nature
of his question? Surely not.
Is youth at any time aware of the surreal?)
One of his many friends spares me the obligation
of an answer; says: The Pope wears purple.
Perhaps his trees should wear it too?
I thank him silently. The boys move on,
replaced by two mature in tweeds. Retired, I'd say.
They talk between themselves, and I'm not sure
if I am meant to hear. He's moved the Yew!
I hear. It's wrong side of the church! Why would
he be doing that? There's silence for a bit.
Then: Probably dyslexic!
The lady's not convinced. She's quite disturbed
by my plain vandalism. To accommodate the yew
I've had to move some headstones. She doesn't use
the word, she doesn't mention desecration,
but she heads in that direction as they both move off.
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