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Good Friday in Relleu, Valencia

Tony Turner


9 p.m. Dark, with muted street lamps.
After heavy rain, crowds gather
in this mountain village outside the church,
exchange excited chatter, silenced
when the huge doors open
releasing gleams of gold
from walls and ceiling and then
bearers forming the funeral cortège:
the crucified Christ in gilded glass
the triumphant Virgin haloed in star-burst rays
on their shoulders. Behind them
mayor and councillors form a line across the street,
then the brass band,
twenty-eight musicians, four abreast.

A drum beat announces imminent departure
establishes the solemn rhythm
which soon becomes a slow, slow march.
Music proclaims the death
of all who’ve ever died, its mournful notes
bouncing off high walls of houses
crowding over the haunting sadness
as band and marchers sway in time:
left— right— left— right as in a trance.

A sharp corner, the procession slows
but never stops playing and swaying
as feet negotiate the turn, then on,
dark marchers joining from open doorways
step for step, calm, respectful.

The uncommitted feel compelled to follow,
drawn by the winding tunes,
the swaying rhythm
and something else they can’t define:
a language with no words
that speaks to them
and shares the sadness
they didn’t know they had.



This poem appears in the 2010 edition of 'Rhyme and Reason' (http://www.irhh.org/sitehome/fundraising/fundraisinggroups/rhyme_reason.html) Tony Turner (http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/tonyturnerbiog.html) has six volumes of poetry in print and has been published in numerous magazines such as Les Murray's 'Quadrant', 'Envoi', 'Interpreter's House', 'Acumen', 'Tears in the Fence' and many others. He is currently chairing 'Metroland Poets', the well established Buckinghamshire poetry workshop. He joined Penelope Shuttle's Poetry workshop at the Almassera Vella in 2009


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