The Eighth Day

Scholars immersed in books
Rise blearily, wiping their eyes,
And gather in knots of threes and fours
In the angles of the square.
They avoid each other’s anxious looks;
The crowds who gathered to hear the wise
Are turned away from the college doors
To seek answers elsewhere.

Staunch pigeons flinch from the open sky,
As though they knew that a day was more
Than light’s rebirth with every morn;
For how can a day be measured when
A wealth of suns see time go by
And seas which ate up all their shore
Once spanned the world from dawn to dawn
Before the age of men?

A street-sweeper smashes his father’s watch.
He doesn’t want to hear it tick
When every second is one second less.
The dying smile as though justified,
The foolish count their money and clutch
At jewels, and build their houses of brick,
And lovers, trembling, whisper, “Yes”,
With the rictus grin of the terrified.

Shopkeepers let the looters in
And laugh as they take the TV sets,
The fridges, iPods and video games,
And over the tannoy some shining wit
Plays “Abide with me” as the evening draws in.
A group of soldiers make heartless bets;
One of them calls out his children’s names,
And in the windows, the candles are lit.

Only babies sleep that night;
Oblivious, older children play.
The adults wonder how long it will last
And cry as the twilight fades to black.
They cosset the moon, and the candlelight,
The preacher falls silent, and dares not pray –
The seventh day is fading fast
And God is coming back.


Happy Apocalypse Day, and a very Merry Christmas!

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