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Book Book

Monday to Saturday / 9am to 6pm

Sunday / 1pm to 4pm

Medieval Key

by Poet in Residence, Julia McGuinness

Behind my shiny line of Yales,
keys to unremembered locks
hang by my front door,
kept in limbo just in case.
Little wonder, then, this key
that has slipped six centuries
lands like an old friend
in the palm of my hand.

I hear its weighty sigh
as my warm fingers curl
over its skeleton body.
It was made to be held;
partner in power of permission,
its portcullis bit purposed
to enter the darkness
in unique and intimate fit.

It seduces us with questions:
Whose hands held it close,
fumbled for it in linen folds,
ringed it with others to feel
its bony jostle on the hip?
What did it hide from others’ eyes –
coins of currency now spent,
spidery documents, cataract jewels?

Now it opens only air, a door
of empathy to unnamed souls
securing their precious things
just like us, who turn this key
from household tool
to treasured object and keep it
captive in a glass case,
safely locked away.

(In response to exploring one of the medieval objects on display at the Cathedral’s Medieval Day)