House of Words – a poem by Jim Aitken

House of Words

I walk the empty aisles and sit
along a row of empty seats.
The faded fresco above me
seems to invite a form of words.

And words seem to be everywhere –
from stone columns to wooden beams,
from the altar to the lectern –
they fill the air in words once said.

In the corners of the roof tops
some prayers lie between the cracks
and from the Stations of the Cross
they discolour the old varnish.

Arches of stone support the words
that have been uttered in deep faith
and all of the stained glass windows
have prevented them escaping.

Millions of words like far-off stars
light up the darkness of the night.
They formed just like stars and burst
out in hope of a better world.

And right now they shower the floor –
supplications and confessions
and petitions of every kind –
then rise like invisible dust.


Jim Aitken is a poet and dramatist living in Edinburgh where he also tutors in Scottish Cultural Studies. His last collection of poems was called Flutterings, published by Red Rose Press in 2016 and his last play was Muriel of Leith, produced by Spartaki for the Leith Festival in 2017. Jim also tutors in Creative Writing and takes groups on Literary Walks around Edinburgh.

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