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In The Small Hours: St Mary's Churchyard, Whitby - Late October

John Brian Leaver imagines cold seas and Northern Lights while ruminating in one of England's historic churchyards.

Fresh was the day;
scudding cloudlets pacing shadows
over the spoondrift spray
as I mulled over mounds
in a cliff-top yard
their sea-facing stones wind scoured,
yet, full-lichen starr'd

One such, half lost to a century's blast,
told of a life before a deep-whaler's mast.
Should idle gaze perchance to scan
this fading script soon last to Man

To dust themselves, that welled to tears
for the passing of William Stanger of
ninety-two years, Master Marinor, died in the the year of Our Lord
in eighteen hundred and fifty-five

Where Northern Lights and beluga play
was this salt's life for many a day.
Did he long for a southern star
with its promise of limpid days of heat,
of spices blowing across the bar,
far from the whip of an Arctic sheet?

Should I surmise on life long under windswept turf?
All I know he is firmly fast within his timeless berth.
As a bell toll'd for vespers at the closing of the light
would that be feeble whispers or my fancy taking flight?

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