(Anne Boleyn’s Communion chalice, donated by Elizabeth I’s physician,
is displayed in a niche in the above.)
Had her head been brought in on a platter,
she might have seen a vaulted porch, with veins
like gills, or fine tracery of brocade;
or diagrams of a nervous system;
or skeletal frames of hooped farthingales.
That narrow windpipe staircase on the right,
constricted as her white, extended throat,
might have reminded her of a Tower
and the futility of counting steps.
This holy place was built on virgin wool.
It was a fold for sheep, who stood before
shearers and then were led to swift slaughter.
Here is a wine glass pulpit, slim as waists,
pre-gravid: a stem for those who could grasp.
A Lamb prayed such a cup would pass from Him,
but had to drink it to the bitter dregs
and she had her Gethsemane as well.
Benjamin, caught with a stolen vessel,
was offered clemency – but she had none.
Her gilt chalice, though charged with sacred blood,
conferred no immunity, nor did it
prevent Dissolution of the Abbey.
Criticism of a current favourite
did John the Baptist no favours either.
But the dancer in Herod’s court was sly –
perhaps more so than this sloe-eyed woman,
who ultimately was beheaded too.
May, the traditional time for losing
one’s heart to one’s love, was a nuptial month,
but also a month of execution.
Cherry tree confetti in the graveyard,
proleptic of this afternoon’s wedding,
has already been bruised and downtrodden.
You may sit on a Woolsack, or a throne,
and gain the whole world, or lose your own head.
(The engraved acanthus decoration
evokes immortality; lineage.
Though its thorny leaves speak of sin and pain,
it was an apt gift to a physician,
from the grateful daughter of Anne Boleyn.)
Meysey Hampton church (Cotswolds) has stained
glass fragments pertaining to the crucifixion. I believe they
were discovered in a barn, sold to the Paul Getty museum,
but have been returned home.
Who the hell is that? you ask.
And where’s the other rogue – the one who mocked?
If I say I’m The Penitent Good Thief,
does that give you a clue? Through gritted teeth,
I am trying to process a promise
that I’ll be translated to Paradise.
I’d get there sooner if they’d break my legs.
I can hardly breathe for my fractured ribs.
At the cusp of salvation/ damnation,
I turned my face, to see He’d gone ahead.
Some think my pardon was an act of grace,
bestowed because I showed a flash of faith,
but others say it was a just reward,
because I stopped those bandits – and Gestas
(no longer with us) from nicking gold,
frankincense, myrrh from that Man’s family,
aeons ago, when they were fugitives.
I asked then that He should remember me,
should our paths cross again – one day they did.
Well, some say Christ Himself was a Good Thief,
since He stole us back from Satan’s kingdom.
Do two wrongs make a right? I do not know,
but I am warming to the paradox.
Salvabitur vix justus in die
judicii/ ergo salvabitur.*
I’m a glimpse of your hope of glory.
Hey, you malefactors – just look and live!
Everything else is a heap of smithereens.
I joined Him in Sheol and freed captives,
but, for the life of me, I do not know
what happened to Gestas; nor where he is.
I was found, restored and here I hang now –
unbaptised, but, oddly, beatified,
waiting for my promised resurrection.
Uncertain of what was meant by ‘today,’
but first in the queue to meet St Peter.
Meanwhile, give me a sip of that wormwood
and, since He didn’t want His, I’ll have it.
- Romans 5 v 7-9
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Benjamin's sack, Croatians, diptych, football, Henry Bolingbroke, Joseph, King Edward, King Richard, livery badge, martlet, Pope, Revenge Parliament, shrines, St George, WAGS, Wilton diptych, World Cup
Viewing The Wilton Diptych on the Day England Realised
‘It [wasn’t] coming home.’
We knelt with King Richard – supplicated;
wanted to wave that pennant of St George,
which was frustratingly just out of reach.
There was no revolt; the ‘peasants’ behaved.
Why did the Virgin reward Croatians?
Why did Henry Bolingbroke take the crown?
Why is the Pope a Catholic?
All our hearts were couchant and chained today.
The shock of failure was epiphanal.
Our livery badge was the three lions.
The angel team seemed to be in clover,
while we were brought to our knees in wasteland.
After four years the Revenge Parliament
will sit. We will challenge hollow power.
Our heraldic past was manufactured –
attributed, as Edward’s martlet shield.
Our feet seemed to be made of feathers
like the little birds thereon depicted.
Shrines and treasures are often portable
and they can be exchanged across countries,
like trophy WAGS. We would have kissed the feet
of anyone who’d helped us win the cup;
not let it pass from us
into some thieving Benjamin’s rucksack.
With sainted management behind us, we,
like Joseph, will recover the chalice.