Hardly room to bend a knee
in this cramped space
God fills with silence.
The parish cast you out,
this broken stone their testament.
You died, it says, in the fifth month.
Now again, this May morning
is lit by low sun as a breeze
carries woodsmoke up from the farms.
My head’s humming, I’m strung out
like the power lines bordering the valley
wondering why I’m drawn
to this famished field,
by some uncorroborated memory of home
where great quarrels were born
over such small issues.
But here there is no dispute,
this strip of hill holds all of you.
These exiled bones claim a world
from one small square of earth.
From James Caruth’s sequence Tithes (featured in the anthology The Footing). Listen to James Caruth reading this poem (in Bowcroft Cemetery, Stannington, Sheffield):