I wrote this poem way back in the 1970s on my way back from visiting my then boyfriend. I believe I was around 14 years young. I took a shortcut through the grounds of this old churchyard. It had not seen visitors there for a few years. Most everyone had disloyally stopped attending and voted with their feet to attend the bright and shiny new Church of England at the end of the next street. It was a travesty of popular culture that something so genuine should lose its following just because the new one looked shinier.
The feeling, as I trespassed on this land, was one of eeriness. The grass was long, so I had to lift my legs high to step over each clump. There was not a breath of air. The time was May – back when there were still three school terms of the year. I stopped in front of a back window to the main church hall. Even though the curtain was still hanging, I was able to see directly down to the front of the hall where the main font stood, proud and bold. The ghosts came out to play in my mind’s eye and I could see the old Reverend standing by the main door smiling and thanking his parishioners for coming to this Sunday’s service. I could hear the rabble of the crowd smiling, cooing, and thanking him. I forget his name now but can see his round face as clearly as if he is in front of me now.
The day is old and I am too,
as I walk through the old church grounds.
The grass is growing very strong and soon will be thick….too thick.
The old Sunday school Hall is almost deserted, like me.
I wonder if anyone still attends.
The old church I once attended is even more deserted.
The chairs are still there, so neatly stacked against the wall
but it’s deserted, just the same.
I try to remember where I sat but cannot find the place.
For old seats have been replaced by new and modern ones.
On leaving, I seem to remember shaking hands with the
Minister, who always wore a big smile.
But now the smile turns to scorn, as fewer people come.
The writing on the walls showing who loves who
is the last that I shall see
of ages long ago. © Sandy Cee
A bit of history for those who love that. This church stood for many years and inspired people throughout the old Housing development of old Green Valley. Its services and Sunday School were attending by many people far and wide and became a community-based church in time. Well, just before the new fancy Church of England which opened the next block down. However, every Saturday Physical Culture was the name in this church hall. The young ones in the morning and the teens and adults in the afternoon. My mother tried it out for a few weeks, but found it wasn’t really for her.
After the services stopped and those who stayed true to their Presbyterian roots went to the older church in Liverpool, some 4km away, it stood derelict for many, many years until finally someone rented it out as a music hall teaching piano and keyboard would-be musicians. I procrastinated way too much for my own good and eventually the church sold the land, and the new owners demolished the buildings. Now there stands some eight units and a standalone house on the block.