Daaskmere Monk

William of Meadowsford

Book Cover

arrowShawn Postoff

Copyright © 1997 - 2009
arrowInfinitive Ink Limited


XXIV ill title Two Discoveries

Four days of strange country crossed blank through my head,
Not knowing the looks of the landscape I tread.
But soon, distant shadows of visions forgot,
Did steep in the waters of questioning thought:
A fragrance untasted since far childhood years
Brought hope to my heart and to eyes it gave tears.
A cabin sunk deep in a thicket of trees,
Evoked a sensation that somehow did please.
I vaguely remembered its presence before,
I sometimes had seen it, but oft would ignore.
I knew not who lived there those ages ago,
And so, with this coming, I still could not know.
But hungry I was and exhausted my bones,
So turned down the path that was marked with some stones.

Approaching the shelter that silently slept,
I wondered if ghosts were the last ones who crept
Within its mysterious innards and walls.
“Is this the result when abandonment falls?
The lights in the windows are blinded and dark,
The chimney smokes never its heat or a spark.”
I spoke these with signs of unease in my voice,
Unsure if by speaking I’d made the right choice.
Then reaching the door I discovered no lock,
But chivalrous habits coerced me to knock,
And waiting in silence, no answer came clear:
No heartbeat of life did the house volunteer.
So inward I entered with caution and care,
My eyes to the dusty old dimness did stare.
And moments in passing accustomed my sight
To modest surroundings more humble in light.
A table stood low to the left of the door,
The hearth spilled a desert of ash on the floor.
And there, on the lump I assumed was a bed,
A figure was sitting, and softly it said,
“Come in, gentle knight, for your presence is warm.
It lights a new lantern and gives the room form.”

My startled reaction was quickly replaced
By marvel that here was a human I faced.
And only as then I remembered the voice,
I realized the words it had gently rejoiced
Were spoken by someone of womanly kind,
Whose wisdom with practical cares intertwined.
“Dear woman, a thousand apologies paid,”
I said to her figure and earnestly made.
“I thought no one here and that entry was free,
I searched for inhabits but none could I see.
My curious quest to invasion has turned,
And of kinder courtesy, none have I learned.
Excuse me, for please, I shall make me my leave,
If you I’ve unsettled, for this I shall grieve.”

“Good knight,” she responded, as up from the bed,
She moved to light candles and hand me some bread,
“‘Tis pleasure to have you, feel not for your shame,
Instead, I entreat you, reveal me your name.”

“Kind lady, you think me a Knight of the King,
But truly, ‘tis not of that class which I sing.
For still I’m a squire from Meadowsford Dale,
With William my label and heavy my tale.”

“No need to explore it,” he she fully assured,
“Significant only is still you’ve endured.
If silence is sacred what sound would profane,
Then tell me of nothing that causes you pain.”

“I thank you,” I said, as the candles grew hot,
And flickered, as tho’ how to burn they’d forgot.
“And now, kindly woman, I’ve told you my name,
I pray thee, return me the compliment same.”

“‘Tis Agnes,” she answered, and then with her head,
She motioned for me to consume from her bread.
And thinking that staleness was all I’d be fed,
Discovered a wonderful freshness instead.

“My goodness!” I sounded, “A welcome surprise!
This bread, gentle Agnes, does quietly rise,
Surpassing all others I’ve tasted before.
Do tell me from whence comes the recipe store.”

The lady then smiled a timid response,
Her humble expression revealing no wants.
“‘Tis fresh in my head and my hands as its made,
The mem’ry of learning does anciently fade.
Good William, I trust that your strength will restore,
But ‘ere you proceed on your journey once more,
Please stay for some friendship, and company cheer,
Our mutual purpose some stories to hear.”

“Accepted,” I answered, for warm was the room.
It starkly did contrast against the cold doom
That outside was haunting the victimized land
Where Nature herself in defense could not stand.
The food in my stomach, nutritious and good,
Combined with the sheltering cabin that stood,
Together convinced me, that given my state,
My Canterbuild quest with postponement could wait.

And so the small cabin a hostel became,
I stayed overnight with a rest as my aim.
And long after nightfall, the candle-lit room
Was warm with the wordplay that through us did bloom.
I learned of her visions at night when she slept,
A dreaming of images through her that leapt:
Her flights as a bird gazing down at the land,
Or path through the waters with fins fully fanned.
Regardless of form, it was movement she sought,
A graceful expression most carefully caught.
And nimble through darkness of countryside night,
Her spirit unfolded within her mind’s sight.
In turn I did talk of my younger days gone,
When smiles ‘twixt Richard and Duncan still shone.
And cares were the simple performance of chores
In Meadowsford manor with sheltering doors.
“Perhaps with the passing of purposeful time,
I’ll come to a point far atop a tall climb,
Where strength and acceptance will carry the weight
Of stories that speak of less earlier fate.
But now, friendly Agnes, the mem’ry’s too fresh,
And telling those tales would soon sicken my flesh.”

No words of apology she would accept,
“Your stories are yours to be told or be kept.
You know where to look to find listening ears:
God willing, I’ll be here for many more years.”

So early ‘pon rising the following day,
I thanked her sincerely and started my way,
Reflecting that hers was a soul kindred bright,
That beckoned a future return to its light.

And as I did take to my travels once more,
I knew without doubt I had walked here before.
This place where the trees towered high overhead,
Had witnessed before, when my younger shoes tread,
My coming with father, when hoods we did meet,
And they to his stature did easy defeat.
I thought for an instant, if time could relapse,
So I, with my training, their threat could collapse.
But thinking such fantasies proved them a waste:
That bitterest night would I ne’er again taste.

So moved again onwards, continued my trek,
And now, ‘twas my pace I was starting to check,
For there, coming closer, the sight of that oak,
Whose gnarled, ancient branches saw criminals choke
When hanged to have Justice restored to the town.
‘Twas there the two roadways crossed o’er and went down,
Each one to its people and proud central square.
I followed the one that mind did declare
Would bring me back into my earlier youth,
The years I’d lost hold of in seeking knights’ truth.
But as I descended me homeward with hope,
My mem’ry, unsettled, was starting to grope.
For something was different from what I recalled:
The town, spread below me, was emptily sprawled.
And in village centre my focus did hit
Upon an expansive and shallow black pit.
I stared at the rubble and blocks of debris,
And felt a great chill falling fast within me:
I saw but its absence where light had once shone,
Great Canterbuild’s holy cathedral was gone!