For Easter weekend, here's a trinity of short poems inspired by my experience of religious observance when I was a child growing up in Nineteen-Fifties Post-War Belfast.
Back then, I was aware of a grim determination on the part of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist fraternity to exclude any morsel of joy from their worship or demeanour.
I sure it's all very different nowadays.
The preacher’s words would rise and fall
like arrows: God’s wrath raining down
on Sunday faces, dull with fear.
The church was spartan and austere
as though his bat-like, flowing gown
cast a great shadow over all.
Joyousness was in short supply
within those walls. Austerity
was all they knew, that little flock.
Shipwrecked, they clung to the cold rock
of religion, despairingly
waving as life sailed blindly by.
A PIOUS WOMAN
She loves God: approves of no man.
Small face sour with disapproval,
she clutches a well-thumbed hymnal.
Watch her Sundays,
drop shillings in collection tins,
repent an absence of real sins
with contrite gaze.
See her weekdays, at the church hall,
organising the removal
of dead flowers. A pious woman.
He has a Bible, black and white,
of ancient words from Heaven sent:
the living truth, omnipotent,
to delineate wrong from right.
Faith is his lantern; hope, the spark
that lights it on the twilight road.
Wrapped in a cloak that has been sewed
with prayer, he braves approaching dark.