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BooksFebruary 1, 2019

The Friday Poem: ‘Cross dresser’ by Oscar Upperton


New poetry by Oscar Upperton.


Cross dresser


I am a pious woman.

I watch as the men leave for war.

I rake the garden over with my hands.

War visits on the roof of the church.

She sits like a great owl, hooting.

I turn my face away. I pray, Lord I pray.

A great evil is tramping over the face of my country.

An evil camps at the end of the river.

Evil has red hair and speaks harshly.

Evil wears helmets and carries pikes.

The Lord gives me a banner

and a cover of chainmail.

They are heavy and hurt my shoulders.

Men do not complain about this. They are weak;

they do not understand that which has been given to them so easily.

I hold a banner, which is a blasphemy.

I wear chainmail, which is a crime.

The Lord tells me I will burn for this and I cry in the garden.

I hide my face from Him in the dirt but He sees,

through the worms’ eyes He sees me and He remembers

His son crying in a different garden to the east of here.

The Lord remembers His son crying,

and does not think, How sad, or

How cruel I was, or, Such things are necessary

but I wish I could have held him. The Lord simply remembers,

Yes, My son cried in a garden like this, the night I told him.

This was when the silver coins were paid and before the walk to the place of crucifixion.

The Lord does not know that the walk felt longer than it was,

that spit fell on His son from the people shouting,

that oil had been spilt on the road and he had slipped and fallen

again and again. Each time a reminder that they did not love him.

He had been made to be loved, so this was painful to him.

I hold the banner before me. I do not bend, though it is heavy.

I walk with it held before me down the village lane.

I am a pious man. I was made strange, to a strange pattern.

Blue flowers nod me on my way. I will burn for this.


Oscar Upperton, 2019

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