"Urn-Burial": a poem by Fiona Benson

A dozen jars, furred
with dirt, a piece of slate
across each throat

and thought, at first,
to be set for resonance,
a slight and subtle antiphon.

But what of this residue,
this rosin,
these thin hearts sleeping,

each occulted in a separate vase?
We slid them back unmarked.
Confess their pulse

in the unstill walls of the church
and you make room for the exiled dead,
crusaders buried abroad,

their quarried hearts
sent home to roost,
like the martins stowed

in their own dull jars
of spit and mud,
querulous under the roof.

This article first appeared in the 14 January 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Dinosaurs vs modernisers