His body had become a wild garden.
With every year it brambled over
As if Age was composting itself
Into a warm and squelchy mulch
To fertilise nerve roots and stem cells.
Starting in the rich pits underarm,
A gentle heathering extended
Over his chest like a Scottish glen.
Deep within abandoned nose shafts
Ash grey striplings struggled to the light.
The sculpted ear features self-seeded
Catching sunshine like thistle down.
Eyes wintered under thorny thickets
Cautious as hedgehogs, hungry as bears.
However hard he hacked or pruned,
The boscage took umbrage round the back,
Sacrilegiously and crackreligiously.
So he turned himself over to Time
And the Diocesan Synod of Oxford.
Now heaved under the churchyard turf
Beneath rugged elms and yew-tree’s shade,
He tolls the knell of passing days
And the verger’s drowsy tinklings.
Prizewinner in the 2015 competition for the Anniversary of Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard