The Recalcitrant Hand

The Recalcitrant Hand

A Poem by David Lewis Paget

They put me in charge of the churchyard,
And said, ‘mow between the graves,’
The weeds out there were atrocious
Grew in lumps, and clumps and waves,
They tangled up in the mower blades
And they shut the motor down,
So I had to use the garden shears
As I knelt upon the ground.

They covered some of the headstones, so
I had to rake them clear,
Spent half of my time sat reading them,
The date, the time of year,
The ground had given away on some,
Had fallen into a hole,
Wherever the coffin lids had caved
On some benighted soul.

The nights were coming on early so
I laboured into the dark,
Just by the light of a spirit lamp
That I’d borrowed from the park,
At length I came on a sunken grave
And I pulled the weeds aside,
To see the shape of a bony hand,
With the shock, I almost died.

The hand came up through the stoney earth
And it pointed to the sky,
With no flesh left on the fingers, yet
It seemed to question ‘Why?’
It still belonged to the corpse below
But had tried to get away,
Out of the dark of doom and gloom
And into the light of day.

The name on the grave was ‘Clarabelle’
And, ’She of the evil eye,
She hexed the cattle in Fingal’s Dell
And the swine, while passing by,
They hung her high on a willow tree
When she pointed at Belle Raye,
Who choked, then withered and sighed, was dead,
And all in a single day.’

The hand had twitched, I couldn’t resist
As I sat and watched it there,
I reached on out and I seized the wrist
And I felt some strange despair,
The hand was warm, and was then full-fleshed
As a shape rose from the ground,
That held me tight in the darkening light
With the hand that I had found.

I heard the rattle of death as she
Had tried to clear each lung,
Full of the body’s liquid waste
That had formed when she was hung.
I heard a croak, and the words she spoke
As she glared into my face,
‘I might be saved from my early grave,
But you’ll have to take my place.’

Whatever power it was she had
It dissolved and turned to sand,
The moment I pulled away from her
And I let go of her hand.
She didn’t speak, but let out a shriek
As she slid back in the grave,
So I’ll never know if she heard below:
‘You’re much too bad to save!’

David Lewis Paget

© 2017 David Lewis Paget

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A very nice tales described. Clarabelle was a interesting character. left the reader with thoughts and wonder. A nice ending to the outstanding poetry my friend David.

Posted 2 Years Ago

I love your Poe-esque tales of woe and dreariness...

Posted 2 Years Ago

It amazes me how you muster up such eerie scenarios, such that scare the Dickens out of me. But you do, and you do it well. I often wonder if you see the entire picture before you start. Or does it just spill slowly and perfectly out of your pen when the darkness permeates your psyche. As usual, great rhyme and meter Barbz

Posted 2 Years Ago

This is really, really good. Your rhymes flow very easily. Just a few editing things:

-I think you need another comma in line four

-"Spent half of my time sat reading them,"
I'm pretty sure, grammatically, this should go, "Spent half my time sitting, reading them."

Posted 2 Years Ago

A lucky beggar an all - to still have the wits to pull away and not be frozen to the spot to swap places!!

I love this atmospheric piece DLP.
Our own graveyard is just like that one - you could break your neck on the undulating soil.

Posted 2 Years Ago

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5 Reviews
Added on July 11, 2017
Last Updated on July 11, 2017
Tags: graves, churchyard, mower, hand


David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget

Moonta, South Australia, Australia



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