St Giles' Churchyard, Shrewsbury

by Sharon Ashton


St Giles' Churchyard, Shrewsbury


In shadows that shift between church and yew

a woman sinks before a gravestone

tracing the lines engraved there,

wanting from each straight incision her children’s limbs

and from each curve their soft heads and laughter.

 

Louisa, who died on the 18th of November 1850 aged two  

cannot be woken from her indent cradle,

and the woman tells herself it was something

to have shaped her first curls around her fingers.

 

Sarah, who died on the 19th of November 1850 aged seven

cannot dance out from her carved name,

and the woman tells herself it was something

to have watched her point her toes and skip the floor.

 

James, who died on the 20th of November 1850 aged five

cannot wrestle his way back to her,

and the woman tells herself it was something

to have to have healed the cuts on his knees with a kiss.

 

In shadows that shift between church and yew

a woman straightens herself,

preparing to meet those who will stare at her

and those who will turn away from her

as if the loss of children were somehow contagious.