The Liberal
About UsSubscribeAdvertising
Current IssueEditor's LetterPoetryPoliticsArts & CultureReviewsCampaignsBack IssuesBookshopBlogPodcastLiberal EventsFacebook

The Abbot Bids Farewell to his Builders

They were leaving
as heathen as they’d come.

He had half hoped one might return
his part-wave, part-blessing.
It was still early of course,
and cowled in his long, black robe
he could, he supposed, have been taken
for another shadow and no thing of substance.

He would miss them – there was no doubt of that –
these masons, carpenters and quarrymen;
their womenfolk too – wives, they said,
whores, they were; he knew that much.

Not that it had ever been easy.
Those raucous songs they’d bawled out
in counterpoint against the Eucharist;
and that gargoyle – it had looked far too much
like poor old Brother Anselm to be funny.

Untouched they might have been
by what they’d done, but just look
at what it was they’d done.

And there was something about their noisy
camaraderie he had it in himself to envy,
the fearlessness, their nonchalant
agility, even at the dizziest of heights.

The fluidity of things had always been
what most entranced him,
how, as the seasons came and went, each ring
of green wood toughened into heartwood.

Stone by stone,
amid a reek of beer
and onions that had outdone
whatever incense he might burn,
the abbey slowly had assumed its shape,
until, like that moment in an hour of prayer
when world and self cohere, the time had come
when every stitch of scaffolding was taken
down and there it stood, “prepared
as a bride adorned for her husband”.
{Revelation, Chapter 21, Verse 2}.

There was no room for excuses any more.
Consummatum Est, he had half caught himself
thinking, and flinched. Light began to play
across the windows of the new scriptorium.

Yes, it was high time he faced up to the word.

Neil Curry

< Previous | Poem 2 of 7 | Next >
Post this poem to: | Digg | Facebook | NowPublic | Reddit