The Ducking Stool In Leominster Church
Once it was a tree standing proud in a forest.
Butchered, dipped and planed by a master
Justice re-fashioned it to bear the weight of those
Whose misdemeanours offended the Lord.
It squats now in Priory Church - a grotesque
Figure in cooling holy shadows
Conscious of its own imperfections.
Does it suggest anything, I wonder,
To the worshippers and plain curious
Brought here by their travel guides ?
A simple pagan beauty, perhaps -
Honourable in a way only our forefathers
Could understand, the gnarled joints
And broken wheel, the cross-beam
That balances a see-saw throne, each part
Built with precision and love for the craft
Before it was corrupted by Father, Son
And Holy Ghost. A scold was the last
To be paraded through town - a pantomime
For the mob - her bonnet torn, her skirts
Muddied by an infectious crowd
For whom old women were witches
And poets were devils and those who deviated
In their prayers were roughly re-confirmed
In the coldest, deepest water.
Once it was a tree standing proud
In a forest. Let this strange creature
Rest now in cooling holy shadows.
Let it rest.