All Things Old - By Guest Contributor Ashley May


Ashley May has dreamed, worked, slept, and eaten in DC for four years. As a fundraiser, event planner, writer, and editor she connects donors and foundation staff with nonprofit investment opportunities at The Philanthropy Roundtable. Various sundry pieces of her writing have appeared in Philanthropy, Tech Cocktail, and Fieldnotes. She currently curates the giving section of Humane Pursuits, a blog dedicated to applying old ideas to modern life. Besides writing, she enjoys serving at Church of the Resurrection, playing clarinet, cooking Italian food, and mastering the fine art of aunt-hood.


All things old were one time new
or so I thought in the nave of Westminster Abbey
staring at a Welshman standing in line
his leather body traced with crevices
cradling a beaten weathered guide to his ear.

Perhaps this was the zillionith sound his cochlea
has processed. Jeremy Irons, voice of Scar,
telling him he's reached the tomb of Mary
Queen of Scots. All things new through an old
apparatus, one body taking in and spitting out.


At one time King James the First must of thought his tomb for mother grand.
He must of heard the choristers, singing tunes from Gibbons as he stood there at her stone.
He must of found some pleasure in the chance to change the common know, acknowledge her
As regal in the face of soiled Tudors, stake that even those died in disgrace can live
again in history as heroes, pilgrims, of the faith. He might of cried.

But he couldn't have foreseen that explanation would be necessary.
One Ph.D. would spend three years examining the shine, polishing the marble,
commenting he should of used the quarry formed in Bath. Americans would stop
and think his mother Mary Tudor, or ask if she was Protestant or Catholic.
One priest would claim that ain't much of a difference.

No, James could not have known, sitting in the Bodleian, how the world was changing next.
At the time it might of seemed that all things new might last at least a family, the Stuarts.
But as it seems, his most compelling likeness was in the least of living things: a stone erected
stories in the air, watching his library, holding his scepter. Meanwhile his Bible, a push to settle
Ireland and Scottish right to rule continued on in other hands, severed from his sovereignty.


And students at their desks would read about in books
their history, their heritage, and give each other looks
"what could we make new again?" if all that's gone before
hardly lasts a century without losing its form.

What will change our weary state that knows that we need more