‘Jerusalem’

Moonlight illuminates the parade as it winds its way between the trees. Where the branches allow it, the light makes silver outlines of pale limbs, bare footprints pressed into the mulch and, held by thin hands, clutched close to sunken breasts, severed heads; the old dead, nurturing the new with ageless love and sour milk.

The stiff-legged procession stretches both ways into the trees. They might always have walked here; an endless wake marching solemnly beneath their cowls. He moves silently closer, his approach masked beneath the clicking of bone and wet sucking sounds, which he hopes is feet sunk into mud and not cold mouths hungry at stiff teats. He does not speak, but in his head repeats an old hymn, hoping it might help him, ground him, keep him sane and safe from demons and the dark.

Night has sapped the colour from the world but he can still make out spring: ghostly lilac blossom, branches heavy with shoots, roots swollen with rainwater and, from beneath the low cowls, the enthused bleating of lambs, long since slaughtered but revived on this night when life courses renewed through the wet, blood-soaked loam.

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