In a Welsh Chapel Darkly

Written by: Andrew John

I know you see me from up there,
from halfway up the steep and twisting lane.
In early half-light as you take your walk
I no doubt seem to loom as you descend,
appear to grow, to rise from earth,
my boxlike rectilinearity,
severe and unadorned geometry,
a silhouette against the solitary sodium source.

I once hosted fiery-throated hymns
from dedicated souls in Sunday best:
“Marchog, Jesu, yn llwyddiannus”,
“O! Iesu mawr, rho d’anian bur” –
voices rich and raised and resonant,
so filled with faith, so gorged with God.
My pitch-pine pews were polished
by coat and skirt and trouser twill.

Abandoned now, unloved, slab-still,
void and stark and desolate,
with quarry-tiled floor that would resound
with joy were anyone to walk upon it,
I present gaping emptiness, a thing felt,
a cave whose darkness, palpable,
is peopled by retreating echoes of my past,
like timorous ghosts far too afraid to speak.

But there is One I must not name
who lodges in my roomy quarters,
cowers within my tight square corners,
seeking shadows when the sun stares in.
I hear Him breathing as
He sweats in His remorse, a thing smelt,
hiding from the accusing gaze
of His forlorn creation.