A Farewell Letter

William Jenny to his wife, these: farewell.
You have been a trouble to me, to my body and to my soul
For seven years.  Now, Amen.
I have gone with Mrs Attwood to Jerusalem.

I have gone to eat spices and locusts and dried figs,
To be whipped by heathens, to shave my head, to beg.
To live with God in the sun.
I shall not come back again.

I have left England and the familiar smell.
Far from blankets and children we shall walk on the hill
Where Jesus suffered, as I do.
His flesh was torn by nails.  Women disturbed him.

You know Mrs Attwood.  Her brother was the butcher.
In the sunshine, sap will rise in my limbs, and in the parts
Of generation, blood will flow.
Never expect me again in the damp house.


from The Man I Killed (Secker & Warburg, 1980), copyright © Laurence Lerner 1980; private recording made at his home in Lewes, Sussex on his 90th Birthday, 12 December 2015, copyright © the Estate of Laurence Lerner 2015, used by permission of the author's Estate.

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