Treasure Island

David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Sin Eater

It was after the funeral service
In the church at Calder Rise,
Hoping to catch a final glimpse
Of you, where your coffin lies,
I’d waited until the others left
And the church was quiet and still,
Then crept on round to the vestry door
And felt a sudden chill.

The coffin lay unattended on
The bier, by the font,
But someone was standing over it
Not someone that you’d want,
He raised the lid and he looked on down
Where you lay in your wedding dress,
Then reached on over your folded arms
And placed some bread on your breast.

He bowed his head and he muttered words
Of some Slavic, Eastern State,
I wanted to interrupt him, but
By then, it was too late,
He took the bread and he wolfed it down
And gagged on the slice of rye,
And as he did, your body heaved
In the coffin, and gave a sigh.

‘My God, ’ I gasped, as I staggered in,
‘What awful thing have you done?
What spell could possibly interfere
With death, but an evil one? ’
He turned to me, was taken aback
That I’d seen the thing he did,
‘Don’t mess with what you don’t understand, ’
He said, then closed the lid.

He started to walk back up the aisle
But he choked, then doubled up,
He started having convulsions
Then his face became corrupt,
His brow was furrowed, his jaw was locked
With his mouth, an evil grin,
‘I’ve taken away her path to Hell, ’
He groaned, ‘I’ve eaten her sin! ’

While back on the bier the coffin lay,
Began to open its lid,
And you sat up in your shroud of death
And fluttered each dead eyelid,
You stared at me with a great intent
And muttered, with words like ice,
‘He’s eaten the sin of you and I,
So meet me in paradise! ’

Your corpse collapsed on the coffin’s side,
Your arms were reaching for me,
I backed away in a panic then
And hid in the church vestry,
We’d lain together the month before
And the sin was deep in my heart,
The Sin-Eater was dead on the floor,
My guilt would tear me apart.

I knew I would have to cleanse my soul
If you were to meet with me,
Though you were headed for paradise
I didn’t know where I’d be,
I came again when the church was dark
And knelt, where the man was dead,
Crossed myself, and I laid it down
On his chest, a slice of bread.

15 May 2014

Submitted: Thursday, May 15, 2014
Edited: Thursday, May 15, 2014

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