The Visitation

Elaine Hogan 2018

It was the evening before that fateful night after
And a mouse ran noisily across an oak rafter
Inside the Evangelist Parish Church of St John
It was the middle of April eighteen seventy-one.

Very soon the mouse was joined by quite a lot more
As they ran up the walls onto the balcony floor,
From the south wall they surged in a great number
And such commotion woke the dead from their slumber
The mice scuttered and scurried as they felt the walls shake
Whilst nigh on seven thousand corpses made the earth quake.
When through the night mist a grey shape came stalking
And into the church strode the cat named Grimalkin,
Erstwhile companion of Nostradamus the seer
Ally of witches in the play by Shakespeare
Swiftly she moved through the nave and onto the altar
Her demeanour was dour and her stride didn’t falter
She lapped at the wine still un-consecrated
Whilst on the balcony more mice congregated
But sadly for them no sanctuary was found
For with a huge leap of faith in a swift single bound
Grimalkin was suddenly in the midst of their mass
Just for a moment before a huge gaping crevasse
Appeared as the walls and the gallery tumbled
And the grounds of the church caved in and crumbled.

Grimalkin leapt clear and onto the tower
As the bells rang out at the midnight hour
The mice that survived hurried and scurried
Among souls dear departed still dead but not buried
Who once awoken from their insentient sleep
Flocked to follow each other like sheep after sheep,
Down the road to the river and into the water
One after another, as lambs to the slaughter
When the last of the dead has been baptised
And the sun over the Irwell river started to rise
Far out in the distance ascending the vale
Sashayed a grey cat with a wave of her tail
It was the day after that fateful night before
And a mouse sat silently on the ruined church floor
Having witnessed the collapse of the church of St John
In the middle of April eighteen seventy-one.

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