The Sunken Cathedral, Dunwich, England
by Michael Brett

This is where wars and histories end: my
Old Europe dreaming of lost fortunes,
Lost coins of Latin scattered on the sea floor.
I can see it through the doorless doorway, ruined,
Or the space where it should be, below the shoreline
Where the old road goes to drown its head
Below the surf in fleeces.

There the Cathedral nests among tibia and ribs,
Among the bladder wrack, ships and landing craft.
Its towers, dolphins, its choirs drowned
Where the senile sea addresses itself in rumours.

I have seen it in a diver's face mask, trembling
With dim fanfares of shoals and tumbling walls.
There mosaic Christ kosmokrator has his finger
And Bible raised towards the muffled, inverted din
Of fishing boats.

Somewhere in the mind, the cathedral bells still beat
Submerged in caverns. Their tongues are bone. In stone,
An armoured head peers through sandy layers, extinctions, deaths
That lead like ladders to the present.

My great-grandfather knew this place and cycled here,
Filled with the certainties of factories each one stamped
With Queen Victoria's face and an empire
Whose milestones were chimneys. Now,
There is no withdrawing Arnoldean roar but a simple sense
Of plodding on between the breakwaters
And the wrecks, torpedoed, weeping rust,
On little pathways between magnificence and folly.


~
Copyright © 2010 - Michael Brett
Published: 3/25/10   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem