These old, cold meeting rooms and deserted chapels are derelict now.
Hiding behind weeds and raw, self-set trees,
Just waiting for someone to come along and buy them.
Turn them into flats or offices.
Not nearly as much fun as a gaggle of people
Singing those great old hymns and songs
That solaced and supported whole generations.
Those dauntless songs and psalmodies that made the white opaque lampshades,
Wide and lovely as floating tents, tremble and sway on the wings of melody.
Now, a lullaby, now a trumpet call of men marching to destruction
Or to share in the lonely and terrible deaths of others.
Here is the tiny kitchen, with the battered aluminium kettle
Rattling against the rusted taps,
Waiting to fill the giant teapots for throats dry after all that singing.
There is the strip of linoleum, torn and dirty on the worn out floor
Still showing its faint brown pattern.
A skirt of torn cotton hanging from a broken wire
No longer hides the clean cups and saucers
In the deep wooden cupboard, nor protects the plates, big and small,
Stamped with the name of this once much-loved place.
All gone, except a broken fragment of pot with a few faint words remaining.
Standing amongst the cobwebs, the torn pages of old music
Almost playing themselves in the dusty silence,
I hum an old remembered song of such power and beauty,
All the lost dead and all the forgotten living
Ring out their strong and lovely voices in joyful chorus.
Sharing this last remembrance before it is gone for ever.
© Gwen Grant