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July 2013, vol 9, no 2

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Guy Simser


In and Out

Read all you want about history, it isn't enough. No smell, no touch or sound, no gut feeling. Maybe that's why I pause at this eroded stonewall gate…

Fresh morning dew
under budding onion sprouts
tincture of manure

Push open the metal gate. It rattles like an antique clock wound backward. A deep murmuring seeps through the leaded glass of the Gothic church before me. I approach its timber siege doors. Pull the forged ring handle on the right. Pull again. Nothing. Lift my hand from the handle…

The smell of rust
great-grandma's
big iron fry pan

Pull the left door handle. It opens. I peer into darkness. A beam of light streams by me into the nave, flashing my shadow toward the altar as the swelling chant washes over me into open air.

I pull the door shut, wait a moment for my eyes to adjust then shyly slip into a rear side pew seat. Former High Anglican, I drop to my knees, lower my head. No words come. I sit up. Eyes unfocused, I'm entranced by the Chancery's stain glass cross and its refracting light which bathes the robed monks chanting in their stalls. The Plainsong that endures through centuries of tribulations.

In due course at peace, I quietly withdraw. Slip out of shadow into light. Exit the cloister through a gate on the other side. Take a deep breath. Yes, out here every spring, waste is spread on the land to feed what feeds, to feed what follows…

Robin's tremolo
over the cloister
over Agnus Dei


Note: Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes: Benedictine monastery Solemes, France. A priory dating to 1000 A.D.



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