Annie Hayter


Einar Thorvaldson dissolved

her husband was a saint, a stone mason
who carved angels and ivy from rock, made
mountains fall to his gentle hands, carved chasms
into blocks, monoliths into myths of men
who’d fallen in war, grave and grey.
the cemetery was his gallery. his art lived on, while
its muses rested quiet in the ground, protruded
solid and whole in the gesturing hands of figures
whose dusty motions would secure a future, in the viewings
of generations.  listen for the slow pause of relatives, searching for
their loved ones, who would stop, to hold their breath
at the exquisite curve of a scroll unwrapping, the
measured script of an obituary, whose very letters
were cause for weeping- a parson, drowning in whiskey,
that regular fish could become something more- someone noble,
a shepherd of Christ who served his flock with devotion, someone beloved,
worthy of recording on a slab. in these grizzled writings,
the adulterous woman would be remembered for her stone
not her flesh- that  charitable woman who’d made her peace in the cities’ beds,
was resurrected as a colossus, a great greying beacon on the landscape.
after all this years of yearning to make his mark
on rows of stones and obelisks, the once fluid hands
became the stiffening fingers of man  in his dotage,
riddled by arthritis, who in his dreams alone
would scale great hunks  of marble, sever its darkened veins
with his blade, chisel a smile or a guarded expression,
make cupids of rock. once a god of death, he succumbed
he could not move without snapping
his fine bones, which twitched, ached for the power
to breathe life into stone with the tips of his fingers,
worried that no stone mason in the city would
do his own tomb its due justice.
imagine his wife’s surprise when one cold morning
she rolled over to kiss not her husband’s wrinkled skin
but the smooth cold stone of a statue, the image
of her dear husband, his hands carved exquisitely,
as if in motion. they never found the body. and
in his stillness, she thought it best that
he shouldered his own memorial, placed him in a central plot,
amongst his angels, his stone feet greening with clover and moss.



To her delight, a few years back, Annie won BBC proms young poet and was runner up as Times Young Poet. More recently, she was shortlisted for the Martin Starkie prize, and lately has been published in the Oxstu, Cherwell and Panopticon, as well as participating in the Seven Voices project.