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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 4, December 2012

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Claire Everett
Northallerton, North Yorkshire, England


Mount Grace Priory

Stax Crux dum volvitur orbis

The Cross is steady while the world is turning.

—The Carthusian Motto

If you were walking beside me, Brother, how would I know? You who devoted your life to silence, meditation and prayer, could be here now, taking a few moments’ pause from that darkest hermitage, to cross once more the cloister garth. I might catch a glimpse of you as you pass through autumn’s naves of gold. If we should meet, you will cover your face with your cowl. We will not speak.

a figure cloaked
in leaf-light
in shadow . . .
time’s soundless tread
and roe-deer eyes

Lead the way to the garden, where you grew your herbs for strewing along with marjoram to flavour honey, and fennel, whose seeds were chewed to stave off hunger throughout Lent. Mind your step in the chapter-house; the rabbits were here before us!

Where were you when the orders came? They say you gathered your few belongings, leaving time enough to take up the wainscoting from your cell and tie it in a bundle to take with you when you vanished into the night, ahead of the King’s men.

day moon
a hare at the spring house
and throngs of snowdrops
bearing signatures
the colour of Chartreuse

each cell and vein
of the butterfly’s wing
a stylus dipped
in oyster shells of pigment
page by page, your days

hours drift as pollen
for the bee’s devotion
clove pinks
lavender and lemonbalm,
sprays of meadowsweet

through dew-laden grass
in quiet contemplation
your steps retraced . . .
the first blush to autumn’s cheek
from the robin’s orchard song

leaf-strewn
this path once sweet with woodruff—
what of blue-green rue,
the Herb of Grace?
Ah, the twilight blackbird!

the priory stoats
in full ermine predict
a cruel winter
flurries from the King’s cloak
the dreaded brush of his sleeve


Author’s Note: Mount Grace Priory, founded in England in 1398 (one of only ten such houses in Britain) was the last monastery to be established in Yorkshire before the Dissolution. In 1534, some of the monks were imprisoned as a result of resisting Henry VIII’s attempts to compel them to take the Oath of Supremacy. In 1539, the Prior surrendered the monastery to the King's agents and Mount Grace was dissolved.

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