Poetry: Choral Service from Westminster Abbey | clivejames.com
[Invisible line of text as temporary way to expand content column justified text width to hit margins on most viewports, simply for improved display stability in the interval between column creation and loading]

Choral Service from Westminster Abbey

The Abbey choir sings “I Know Not the Hour”
And once again we all sit silent where
She, only, was not sighing for the waste
Of youth, health, beauty and the savoir faire
That might have served us all well later on
Had there not been the panic-stricken haste,
The concrete tunnel and the car’s crushed power,
Almost as if she wanted to be gone,

Even without a chance to say goodbye.
From my seat on the transept’s left-hand aisle
I saw the ceremony end. Six men
Shouldered the coffin and I could have sworn
That they brought her to me. You well might smile,
But she could smile as if she were the dawn
All set for a night out. That she would die
So soon, and never race your heart again,

Seemed not in nature. Then the guards wheeled right
A yard in front of me, and their slow march —
Spit-shine parade boots on a flagstone floor —
Down the side corridor beyond the arch
Crunched, boomed and whispered and went silent. So
She started her flight home. It felt like theft.
Until she vanished few of us could know —
And now all knew, and nothing was more sure —

A light could die just from the way it shone.
Her fantasy, or ours? I couldn’t say.
She pulled the names, she got them on her team:
No question. Think, though, of some crippled kid
She talked to a long time, and later on
Wrote letters to, and never said she did.
Tell yourself then that she was just a dream,
Gone when the soldiers carried her away.