Christine Griffin

De Profundis

Once there was noise.
Four-o-clock dock hooters
pulling the ragged,
the cloth capped,
the swearers and spitters
down Tyler Street
into a clanging Mersey morning.
Street calls, laughter, squabbles
cries of the new-born
pleas from the dying.

Cackling, pinnied women
donkey-stoning daily step-grime
zipping street gossip
from door to door,
or muttering prayers to Our Lady
when secret nagging fears
clatter in their heads ‒
another mouth ‒cruel bosses ‒
a swollen blackened breast lump,
holy-water-anointed, growing still.

Now in The Tyler Palace
there is sound but not noise.
No vigorous, sharp-honed life
but silky piano, chiming crystal,
waiters swaying, stirring, shaking.
A click of heels on marble,
swish of a perfumed lift.
The keep-out shutting of doors and
soft chatter on balconies
as sunset whispers over Wales.

But in the deep watches,
four-o-clock sleepers, comfort-cocooned
feel in their bones echoes
from graveyard streets below.
The wrecking ball crashes,
as mournful fog horns swell
from the channel’s edge
past the ghost dockyards
and the vanished homes
tolling the passing bell for the dead.

Christine is a Gloucestershire-based writer of prose and poetry. She has  won several competitions both locally and nationally and last year published a book of short stories. Her poetry has been featured on several occasions at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and in April ’18 she performed a
selection of her work at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival.