There’s a crinkling, darkling, thrumming in the air
This space, encased by the blank dull faces
Of the windows towering up, unholy spires,
Striving, always shunning the earth down below
Where old bones stay reposing under the restless city’s steps.

They come here to picnic, to gossip, to forget
Perhaps they want to escape too, like the tall office blocks.
They come here to be separate, to chatter, to lose themselves
And to flee the chains of their clockwork existence,
An hour for lunch, here, on this old burying ground.

And do they think of the bodies that shrink,
Decayed, beneath their Louboutin clad feet,
Might once have longed and felt and loved?
That one amongst the mouldering bones
Transcended all temporal notions
An angel in his art he was derided and feared
A true revolutionary, and yet, who stops at
His grave to ponder, to pause a while, to wonder what
Kind of man he was, who once lived and breathed and created,
As they all now live and breathe and create?

Yes, the park keeper and his van, oblivious
Guardians to this most special kind of man
For whom life did not suit and in death he fares
Scarcely better, as office politics, grumbling domestics,
The scraping of the brushes as they clean up the litter,
Leaves tearing from the trees, all pass across his final resting place.

But outside, outside the wrought iron fences, not too far away,
The city moans and it groans, an everlasting rhythm
Like William and his words.
And if I am the only one to lay flowers on his grave
And mourn the flicker of his existence, I do not think
He could begrudge the life around him that fumbles on,
As it has ever fumbled.

And somehow in this spoiling moiling mess of a city
There lurks a rare kind of humanity
Lodged between the flats and the new builds
The pop ups and the shutting downs, the moving ons,
A spirit William might recognise lingers still
In London town, his bridge, his Thames, ever the
Life blood that thumps, thumps, through our ears.
For here is discovery, for here is eternity,
And that William knew, and I do not doubt
That the old poet would be proud.

Rose Staveley-Wadham