Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Acherontia atropos, bourgeoisie, Charles I, Chinook, Courbeville, Death's Head, fuselage, Halfpenny Bridge, Indian Summer, Lechlade, Lichtenstein, mandorla, Piero della Francesca, pill box, Pointillist, Quattrocento, Seurat, thorax, Wham!
No belching smoke plume smuts the bathers here.
This is unlike Courbeville, where a boy
once hailed strollers on the opposite bank:
Hey, we the working class are the future!
Why don’t you come and join us, bourgeoisie?
No, we walk over the water meadows,
having emerged from under The Halfpenny Bridge,
passing the uninhabited barges.
Hawthorn berries bleed against a blue sky,
fusing the day with divisionist tones.
(Photo: Ballista at en. wikipaedia)
Six swans pose before a lichened pill box.
The spire’s reflection is a mandorla–
a mercury stain. And, in an instant,
we move from Seurat’s Pointillist moment
and the figures enjoying a brief dip
on this Indian summer afternoon,
to something more akin to Lichtenstein.
The little Quattrocento fresco group,
with Piero della Francesca profiles,
find its peace shattered-not by industry,
but by a military cargo plane,
like an Acherontia atropos,
with a skull-marked thorax on the fuselage.
That Death’s Head was first seen when Charles I
was executed. Whose thread will be cut?
Are we under threat from war, death, hunger,
or pestilence, more deadly than a flea
escaping from a wool bale long ago
and bringing devastation in its wake?
A whirring Chinook gnat follows its course.
The corpse paths between the churches darken.
Maybe a vestry curtain will be ripped.
Towelled, the children shiver in the shade.