Monday, April 25, 2016

Recurrence at Rievaulx Abbey

Recurrence at Rievaulx Abbey

We stood in the rib cage of the abbey,
Its bones intact enough to conjure for us
Its sometime grandeur and the habits that breathed in it
as prayerful lungs, worklings in thrall to circadian infinity.

The whale of a ruin is marooned in the maw
Of a forest. We looked up at the sharp trees
To see a coven of crows lift together like the beads
Of a necklace, linked invisibly in silhouette,
And shiver down to garland a long tooth of the abbey -
A pillar unsiblinged by relentless weather and a rash king's decree.

We thought the crows beheld the lost ceiling, invisible to us
As though they remembered it. That they might be revenant monks
Keeping the dissolution at bay in a new uniform of feathers.

But our mistake was to presume that humans are the ascendant
of all flesh and foliage, that we might revive
in the empty waiting vessels of birds.
The egotism of our species knows no bounds.

The monks, when they lived, were shadow crows
Testing a new guise in the fluctuation of a wider myth
Than any known or spoken of in human words.
That abbey was a shard in the span of corvid time,
Just as corvids may be in that of stone or water.

What makes you sure you are not the phantasm of an owl,
a wolf or a newt? Is there any shame in such a fate?

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