Our Lady of Walsingham

Not a pilgrim, I, but I walked out to Walsingham,
along the brown beslippered road towards the Wash.
I went in search of love and a sort of faith.
But the wind, like a whippet unleashed from the hand,
took the tatters of my hopes, dried leaves,
and I huddled in my clothes, caught beneath the weather-edge.
The road echoed faith in a woman, which I sought,
but the puddles, glassy with late ice, reflected bleak life.
The entrance to Hell lay through such a grey hole, and I,
embalmed in the open, felt already entombed.
What hope could one Woman offer me in spite of another?
What faith could be found beyond the charity of friends?

Arriving, I found sanctuary in the pub,
before an ancient grate ablaze.
I drank my beer and lit a cigarette and felt
my body relax besides itself,
as though each exhalation of smoke
rid my tiredness of bad spirits.
The logs in flames chuckled at me,
the drink connived to be carefree, and
though I disapproved, I felt uplifted.
Becalmed in that sea of smoke, amid the public din,
I felt warm breath, and one woman whispered to me
to forgive another and remember her instead,
while through the window one blue gem of sky
questioned sorrow and chided grief.

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