Jean Atkin – Singer on the Tower

Singer on the Tower

For Peter Stutz at 90

it doesn’t bear thinking about, but
it does bear remembering

in the cold nave
she sat down at the organ, played
& you
heard it booming
up through the church
full in its notes
as you climbed the slow
spiral round & up
& round & up
the tower

& the thoughts came
of your pal, brave boy,
who climbed the spire’s mast,
put the golden cockerel
on the top –

you stepped out of St Peter’s stone
throat & onto lead

one hand on the cold spire & moved
to look out over Peterchurch
over the whole snowy valley

& breathed              opened
your mouth             sang

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day…

& night begins to fall
& the trees in the churchyard gather
your deep notes into heartwood
strand your sounds
into their millennial fibres,
everything, even
the golden cockerel

Put it all in oak, so it’ll last
for many years when I’m gone
before I get too late

Jean Atkin works as a poet, and lives in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House.  Her poem ‘What’s Human’ was included in 2014’s Best Scottish Poems, an online selection of 20 best poems by Scottish poets.  She has held residencies and worked on projects in both Scotland and England, and is Wenlock Poetry Festival’s first  Poet in Residence in 2015.  She also works regularly as a poet with elderly people living with dementia and leads a young writers group for Writing West Midlands.