Stonemason Speaks

Were they a bit rough with you then,

those village boys when they caught you?

‘Get us an exhibitionist woman,’ the gaffer said.

Dunno as they understood what he meant

as they scrabbled for a worn-out coin,

but here you are, bald as a babby,

that makes my job easier.

Now then, look this way a bit more.

No need to worry, you’re not alone,

the pilgrim routes from here to Rome

are studded with your kind –

women as bares all.

Open wider, that’s it. Hold it there.

Give the lads an eye full,

I can hear them sniggering.

There’ll be none of that when

they come up the churchyard path

with their mothers.

They’ll look down then

which is what I wish you’d do.

Keep still. Stop wriggling.

Oh no, don’t cry or shiver.

They’ll stick you on the south side

next to a soppy hound and hare,

nice and sheltered there.

This is the finest sandstone –

I don’t want to botch it,

bugger it up with a slip of the chisel.

You’ll soon be free to go,

climb back into your clouts.

This version of you will fox them

for a thousand years.

Chris Kinsey