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Cathedral Tour by Candlelight

by Poet in Residence, Julia McGuinness

Crisp Winter daylight is lost
to rays of sunset swept
into parchment light of candles.

We trace their avenue down the aisle,
landing lights that draw us
into this place of shadows.

Our guide outlines history, artefacts;
thin flick of torch beam
skates over stone-deep silence.

Eyes strain at dates and details
under night-blank stare of stained glass,
senses awake for what is invisible by day.

We are here to see as the black monks saw,
at the hour when they would be chasing sleep
through chapped hands, ice-block feet.

We tread Victorian-styled tiling
over underfloor heating, sip mulled wine.
sample their six times daily haunt.

We walk all over their Rule as strangers,
their routine candles our romance
clustered, lined on sills and tiles.

In this stone-hold gloaming, tea-lights
flicker pinprick kisses into dark air,
a periphery of amber whispers.

Afterwards, my shoe is wax-splashed.
I lie, wide-eyed in the dark,
wonder if I trampled angels unawares.

Julia McGuinness
February 2020