Friday, April 10, 2009

at Harold's grave

The sun was out when we woke up and we had this hired Volkswagen Eos and so we dropped the top and headed out of Islington, out of London.

At the Tesco near Tottenham we loaded up on cheese and yogurt and bread to tear apart, and a white chocolate Easter cow, and kept going. Dylan on the mp3 player. Laughing and eating. "Look out kid Don't matter what you did Walk on your tip toes Don't try "No Doz" Better stay away from those That carry around a fire hose Keep a clean nose Watch the plain clothes You don't need a weather man To know which way the wind blows."

In Essex we found ourselves in Waltham Abbey. King Harold started building this church in 1060. Wasn't king yet, of course. Short reign for the last Saxon to rule, though the current royal family is quite German. Redux. rebirth. By the time we find a spot in the tiny carpark it is raining. This is England.

We go inside. Holding hands. There is intimacy within these ancient walls. There is the warmth of human touch which fights off the chill of a thousand years. On the wall of the guild chapelis a 12th Century Doom Painting. We stare. I think, sitting here in this empty space, that we could snog like teenagers in the back of a theatre, but it seems inappropriate.

Outside we stand by Harold's grave, between the base of the pillars of a part of the church lost long ago to Henry VIII's semi-Protestantism. It has turned cold and the rain stings, but histories hold me here for a moment. The first coronation in Westminster Abbey on the Ephiphany, 1066. Stamford Bridge and Hastings. Effort and loss. My father was Harold. Effort and loss. The sky is a thick and twisting grey.

Across the churchyard there is a pub. We share the world's best chips, massive and sizzling hot, and a pot of tea. We are warmed.

copyright 2009 by Ira Socol

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