Lou Davis

print & pattern, rhythm & ritual

The Chapel Ladies

Poetry

Mary was a chapel lady
Head of a mafia force
She took charge of community matters
She ran the whole village of course

She put on tea dances on Tuesdays
Where ladies paraded the floor
To the crackle of the old record player
Counting one, two, three, one, two, three, four

Every week there were buns for the cake stall
With a cherry or smartie on top
Her pension was spent on ingredients
The spare change all went in the pot

For home missions or overseas aid
The children’s home or the YMCA
Always a cause to collect for
To quietly give money away

Every day she made a short circuit
To visit some folk in their homes
She’d drop in on Sarah and Bella
Check Lily was coping alone

She’d organise lifts to the hospital
And visits to those out of town
She was the unseen commander
In her bed socks and blue dressing gown

On Saturday she ran the tombola
At the jumble sale in the new village hall
When all that’s at stake is a bottle of talc
It’s hardly gambling at all

Every Sunday she was there by the kettle
After she’d sung the old hymns with pride
To make sure there was hot tea and coffee
Pink wafers and bourbons on the side

But the chapel she loved is now closing
Their own fault the foolish priest thinks
They didn’t follow his strategy for mission
Allowed their numbers to shrink

Those ladies didn’t talk about Jesus
They wouldn’t hand out tracts door to door
They wouldn’t accept any of his changes
They could have done so much more

But our Mary was headed heavenward
She was greeted at the gates with a grin
Haway Mary, we’ve been waiting for you
There’s a tea dance about to begin

Now she’s dancing a two-step with Bella
All around the paradise hall
And Jesus is choosing the records
The chapel ladies are having a ball

© Lou Davis 2015

 

A few weeks ago I went to a spoken word night titled ‘Sheroes’ about the women who’ve inspired us. I wrote this and it’s very loosely based on my Grandma and her friends – from a small County Durham mining town. There’s a fair dollop of nostalgia in there and some artistic licence too!

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