:: Article

Sacred Heart

By Adelle Stripe.

on a train, through the fog, where the sun was the moon
and boats laid asleep on the silver rink marsh
where church spires were strangled by dead tree silhouettes
i listened to the murmur of sorrowful songs

the flickering light was my own dream machine
fingertips numb i pictured verlaine
and walked over cobbles (past dog shit and bottles)
up steps to a view through antique snickleways

this was our journey, hands tracing hangmen
a hundred i love yous scratched on blue paint
crumbs of old pastry scattered on tables
a thick russian hat kept the cold from my face

under pale domes of the cracked french cathedral
(an old taj mahal dripping wax on pigalle)
conversation distilled into transparent pearls
my words dry as ice condensed in the sunlight

i tapped on the handrails in vatican gift shops,
where icons in gold were sold for a steal
to tourists, as penance, coins forming small mountains
a new den of thieves in a black flag bastille

a ring on my hand, hematite, fitted tight
followed the shape of an archangel’s feet
where requiem’s silence was spiked by stilettos
the sound ricocheted from the black stained glass peaks

past bistros, bookshops, or cafes, where old men
leaned against heaters smoking gitanes
you pulled on my patch gloves, rubbed on my hands
and bought me éclairs by an old peepshow stand

in only five hours, a snapshot in time
walking like ghosts of a decadent past
without a direction, we stared at manaras;
blood, spit and sawdust – a wintertime fast.

Adelle Stripe is a poet from Tadcaster who lives in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire. She is a founding member of The Brutalists (alongside Tony O’Neill and Ben Myers) and has published two solo collections Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid and the recently-released Cigarettes In Bed, both of which are published by Blackheath Books. She writes about noisy bands for The Stool Pigeon, is the fiction editor of the Manchester arts magazine Flux and is currently working on a major poetry project based on The Yorkshire Ripper called The Beast I Am. A 3:AM interview with Adelle is forthcoming.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009.