In A Skipton Church Cafe

In search of sustenance we see the sign,

‘Church cafe this way’,

And so we follow the directions,

Though not the vocation.

The room is wide and high and lit by sunlight

Beaming through tall windows.

Above my head timber beams lumber darkly.

They stop the bright sky from falling in.

Beneath my tired feet old golden parquet tiles glow

The bleached colour of wood well worn by the footwear

Of the well-heeled.

Around me walls of grey gritstone dressed by hands unknown

Each block showing the bite of the facing chisel.

On the walls pictures of pious people past and present,

Reverends and rectors of the now and then,

Look down on us.

Two pairs of sisters enter,

A doubling of twins, sibling mimics of each other.

One pair are tall and thin and nervous.

They share a plate of tuna sandwiches

And monitor each other and the room

With quick little flickers of their eyes.

The other pair are broad and old and indulgent.

They order and ingest plates full of plentiful calories

And chat but rarely look each other in the eye.

The dissimilarities are unmatched.

The cafe is accessed by walking through the church.

People loiter on the way through to admire

The quaint old English structure.

Many look devout, though I doubt it.

Some days I envy the certitude

Of the faithful multitude,

But I could never sufficiently suspend my belief

In reality

Or abandon the sense

Of incredulity

That such faith engenders in me.

The names of God and Christ, I’m sad to say,

In this mad, mad world of ours today,

Are often used in a way that’s abusive,

Little more than expletives.

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