They tower on the hilltops of the far Reconquest,
Holding up their crosses to the heavens – Tall centuries of flinty faith
Piled high to fill the sky with their conviction.
Once new, once bright, once bold,
They groan now under their own history,
Amassing moss, and scaffolding, and tourists,
While from the altar steps the Word is read aloud
To generations of vacant pews.
When did the certainty ebb from these holy halls
To spend itself amongst the pigeons and the traffic
And the windswept squares below?
Perhaps one day the church bell tolled
A little less insistently than usual,
And the choir sang out a little less brightly,
And the incense hung a touch less thickly on the air,
Then suddenly, on a day like any other,
A day of wind and pigeons and an almost empty sky,
Someone looked up at them,
And saw them as they were,
Aloft and alone and abandoned –
Just as we were one day to realize
That the house of our great love
Was actually standing cold and empty,
With its tiles falling from the rooftop,
And the paint peeling from the window-frames,
And the front door yawning open on its hinges
To welcome in some curious stranger.