One time the wind that had been swirling all day rises in the night to a bleak howl, a huge livid drench of rain and in the morning the women find a whole chunk of the churchyard broken off in the gale and crumbled into the sea.
It sounds like that’s a metaphor for something but it just happens.
The minister is in agony. Shattered caskets on the rocks below, bones among the driftwood, carved headstones sticking out from the cliff-top like a row of ragged teeth. The superstitious are muttering, the morbid clamber over the scree at low tide to pick through the jetsam for what they can find. Someone says old John Pugh was buried with his great brass watch, and that was only last September. The minister preaches against all this but he makes no sense; the storm was the punishment, our covetousness the cause but the storm came first. Perhaps one day the sea will take his whole church.
One day the sea will take us all.
Geoff Sawers has done many different jobs in his life but is never going back to being a bartender at Ascot races. He lives in Reading with his disabled son.
Photo by Dave Brooks – Gravestones | St Michael’s Church | Whitby. Henry Bennison Master Mariner (1781 – 1841)