A compact black Zen priest,
he sits in the exact centre
of a perfectly green field.
In the early morning mist,
in the blistering noon heat,
in the fading colours of dusk.
Master of alert meditation.
His body is humming with
the mantra of swift death.
Such innocence. Such faith.
Some people say an ancient race landed
a spaceship here a thousand years ago.
They sent out scouts; explored the land;
settled, and tilled the soil. Then famine came,
and war. All memory ends here.
The travellers are gone; their ship, forgotten.
Until tonight. Tonight I walk the length
of the great hull. Anchored by buttresses,
pinned down by rusty scaffolding, it lies
a prisoner under an alien sky, the spire
straining to make contact with the stars.
A late car passes in the rain. Lights flicker
on the walls. I hear the swish of tyres
on wet tarmac; the hum of mighty engines
waking up. The ship is stirring. Timber
creaks; a finial falls, a flying buttress
scatters Purbeck stone, the sheer sides
soar up, vanish into space –
I shut my eyes – and it is nothing –
just a tale – as insubstantial as the wind
that shakes the chestnut trees and chases
leaves across the black, deserted Close.