The clerics stood
commanding, demanding, unending
the old walls stood
supporting, surrounding, upstanding.
The lonely figure stood
courageously, stoically, outrageously
with pride and honour and defiance.
No cleric there who defined reliance
but the people stood around those walls
and these people stood whilst the last bell tolls.
The ancient stones echoed yearning and learning
the lonely figure stood bravely discerning
whilst the clerics stood
as if it were a place where no one ever learned.
The people sat around those walls
engrossed, engaged whilst the last bell tolls
the children sat and ran and went
where many more had childhood spent.
The lonely figure presided there
proud and willing, always giving
a stalwart ever there.
The cold breeze blew around those walls
of the lonely church yonder
the ghosts of ancient elders wander
the crickets darted aimlessly through gable cracks
the birds sang joyously, unknowingly above the people.
Whilst the lonely figure stood
in the eye of the storm
on the longest day of the year.
Jean McQuade is a civil servant who has loved writing poetry for years
This poem is about my very dear friend who had lost a major battle with hierarchy in a place she loved and invested her soul. The poem was about the closing down, literally on the longest day of the year, surrounded by the community – and the hierarchy, who had no soul.