Drove road to Saint Botolph’s; psalms of wind
sound the tree-tops. None to meet us
when we wade the flooded meadows of the parish,
then come dripping through the orchard.
Brown hangs his boots and shirt about the porch.
We have a scout. Here are four wooden crosses,
stones that whisper Ora pro nobis,
star-breasted angels, and high above a northern arch
slow Magi loom from out the night.
Jasper’s fit for fields more than a palace,
he kneels with gold that flares like tips of wheat,
his bare head touched by sun, grace, solace.
I fetch a ladder. Brown works the whitewash,
and just for good measure, cuts Mary’s face.
Two men move from church to church in a remote valley looking for the remnants of Catholic wall art to destroy. Chris Jones’s sequence Death and the Gallant (in the Longbarrow Press anthology The Footing and Jones’s collection Skin) explores iconoclasm in seventeenth century English culture. The poems focus on the relationship between Brown and the narrator as they travel towards a final reckoning. This is the first poem in the sequence. Listen to Chris Jones reading this poem: