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Knock knock

Stephen Chinnock

4 April 2020

I’m knocking on
The fortified door
Of that monastery
Mentioned before

I’m seeking advice
From Fra Sebastiano
Can I confess my sins
My mistakes and errors
Over the years of my life

Come in my son
But wait a while
While my brothers
Have their quiet moment
Of prayer and reflection
And eat their supper

Imagine the scene
Of a long trestle table
A dozen or more monks
With their cowls
Shading the face
Separated by two metres
Each from the other
All heads bent down
In silent prayer

When Fra Bartolomeo
Gives the subtle signal
They eat their meagre gruel
Silence resounding
In that cold hall of stone

When the bowls are scrapped
Clean with wooden spoons
The monks all arise
Gather their roughly sown habits
Onto shoulders accustomed
To bearing a burden

They shuffle off
Down the labyrinth
Of dark cold corridors
Each to his own
Simple and sparse cell
To fall on their knees
Praying again to save
The common folk
From the terrible plague

Finally the dear brother
Fra Sebastiano takes me aside
To sit on a bench of recompense
He listens patiently
To my diatribe
And then says simply
Just be supportive
Of those in need
And use what gifts you have
To make the life of your connections
Safer and happier!

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