A poem by Amy Deakin, inspired by 1 Corinthians 1.11.
Listen to Amy read this poem at 'Provoking Faith in a time of isolation',
the online gathering of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church:
The women get up during the final hymn
And line green tea cups up at the back.
At the end of the service, the congregation will cluster
For teas and coffee, biscuits on a green plate, squash for the children
In bright plastic beakers.
The women’s names are on a rota.
Someone asked them, once. They do their duty.
The minister tells the congregation
There is a lack of faith. He hardly remembers
The women’s names. But they all know
That someone should go out with a mug of Tetley’s, strong, two sugars,
15 minutes after the benediction so he can finish his conversation.
He smiles at her, says thank you, turns and forgets her face.
Her name is Chloe. She has attended this church for 5 years.
She worked in the Civil Service, before she retired.
No children, no husband; she has not joined a home group.
But she does the tea rota, every other Sunday.
She wears a red fleece. Last year she had a breast cancer scare.
No one at church knows. Chloe is private
But observant. She sees the vicar’s itchy feet.
In six months, he will leave. The deaconate is fractious.
No one raises a voice, but Chloe senses tension
In the way a cup is taken, who is spoken to, who is not.
Chloe finds the Bible difficult and the hymns too fast to sing to,
But she does think, if someone cared to ask her, she does think
That it isn’t supposed to be like this.
Two weeks later, Chloe leaves. No one knows why.
Her name is crossed out on the tea rota.
People talk about it, then forget.
The minister preaches about lost sheep.
Chloe reads her Bible, at home, in peace.
Amy Deakin is a lifelong Londoner who started attending Bloomsbury last year. She works in the charity sector and enjoys performance poetry and creative writing.
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