Peter Branson

Errwood
(The ruin of Errwood Hall, Goyt Valley, Derbys)

Climb Shooters Clough above the reservoir.
Giant rhododendron, chestnut, oak and pine
conceal vast cultivated terraces,
deep feral green beside the Silver Brook.
Find ravaged Errwood Hall, walking with ghosts:
Italianate conceit procured to make
a second-generation high church gent
of merchant and mill owner, Sam Grimshaw.

Design abandoned with so much estate
below high water line: d'you see, revenge,
justice, sweet poetry; enlightenment,
wizened by time, robbed out to feed the dam;
a dynasty built on live sacrifice,
breathtaking smoke, starved back to back; God's plan

Home Ground
I would like to see a return to the biblical law outlined in Isaiah
and Jeremiah. It would put our people back in God's order ...
  (Pat Johnson, friend of Mike Cain, Nevada, USA)

No way you'll miss how much the place has changed,
even in these uncertain times: that sign
"White hetero English Christians welcome here"
on main routes into town; banners strewn high,
"Death to all socialists and sodomites";
"Code violators shot on sight"; prayer cloths
on posts; religious art on every wall
and gable end. Folk altered overnight.

Churchwardens menace, black and uniform,
gun metalled smiles. All pubs and betting shops
are boarded up or turned into bedsits
for newlyweds. Sports Hall's a holding pen
for fornicators waiting to be cleansed.
Women dress modestly, all face-painting
thought-crime: this haven for upstanding men;
no noise or litter, buses dead on time.

Peter Branson © 2008