Death on a Crossing

Evangeline Paterson

My cmnt: I first encountered this poem when it was published in The Daily Nebraskan, student newspaper of the University of Nebraska, some time ago. I found this blog and purchased the book of poems The Lion Book of Christian Poetry. I didn’t find a lot of poems there that impressed me so I don’t really recommend the book. I do however recommend reading the poem below. 

Evangeline Paterson (1928—2000) is the founding editor of the journal Other Voices. She grew up in Dublin, married an Englishman, and lived for many years in St. Andrews, Scotland, then in Leicester, England.

She is the author of several poetry collections including, A Game of Soldiers, Lucifer at the Fair and What To Do With Your Poems. Her New and Selected poems, entitled Lucifer, with Angels (Dedalus) appeared in 1994. I first encountered her work in The Lion Book of Christian Poetry (1981) which was reproduced by Eerdmans in the United States.

Death on a Crossing

What he never thought to consider was whether
the thing was true. What bewildered him, mostly,
was the way that the rumours had of reaching him
from such improbable sources — illiterate pamphlets
pressed in his hand, the brash or the floundering stranger
who came to his door, the proclamations, among
so many others, on hoardings

————————————–though sometimes waking
a brief dismay, that never quite prodded him
to the analyst’s couch.

—————————–But annunciations, he thought,
should come to a rational man in a rational way.
He walked between a skyful of midnight angels
and a patch on somebody’s jeans, both saying
the same things to his stopped ears

———————————————-till the day
when he stepped on a crossing with not enough conviction
to get him safe to the other side, and he lay
among strangers’ feet, and the angels lowered their trumpets
and no sweet chariot swung, to carry him home.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collectionPoiema.

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