As we walked down the hill that day,

I heard a crackling in the distance,

Like the splitting of logs for the hearths,

Of the Georgian buildings,

To warm a bureaucrat’s hands,

Signing foreclosures and repossessions;

Perhaps an old man’s bones hoping,

That they might survive another winter.

October held cruelty above our heads,

Like a cold, sharp pendulum,

But being a fool, I thought:

Nature won’t hurt me:

She is married to God.


Across the square we leapt,

Poster children for fate,

We queued for an eternity,

At the admission gate.


Inside it was so peaceful,

And the stained glass so pretty,

It was all too easy to forget,

Outside there hummed a city.


Sanctuary sprang to mind,

As we climbed and climbed,

Clip-clopped our way to the top,

Way past where we should have stopped.

Both of us tourists in a line,

Expecting some kind of sign,

At the end of this ancient staircase.


We climbed the tower while dusk was falling,

So nobody noticed the most appalling,

Wounds apparent on my person,

Oh, it’s just the way he wears ’em,

The tour guide laughed and pushed ahead,

While you and he left me for dead.


You looked back once, but not again,

So in the bell tower I’ll remain,

Til madness comes one lonely night,

Or God grants me the gift of flight.

Til the tourists down in the square,

Look up and hear my prayers.


How I wish I’d never climbed those stairs.