To stand in this place is not to feel
the weight of history, but the treasure
of its humanity. Go on a mist-damp day
in early spring; climb through the woods
solitary, roofed and walled and floored in green.
The gate, wood-massive and iron-barred,
stands open. Pass through it and become
part of the place’s past. It is not whole,
but propped up, unreconstructed. The wind
scours and wears the stone but the footprint
is still there; listen for the echo, trace it.
Pace the vast space of the bustling kitchens
and see the girl trudge with sloshing bucket
from the well. Climb higher on centuries-worn
steps to the wall. The soldier huddles in his cloak,
blows on numb fingers. Look over the parapet,
see the line of carts and carters below, groaning,
hauling grain and meat and fuel and fodder.
Look up, to the tower. The lord in his solar
gazes across the valley, self-satisfied or afraid;
his pale daughter frowns at her needlework.
Now close your eyes and hold this, glowing,
as if you’ve drunk the magic draught
from a light-filled cup. Soon you must return
to your workaday world, but here in this space
you are someone and somewhen else, wonder-full.
The birds sing in the nearing forest, the wind
caresses the stone, the tattered flag
flaps, the fortress stands empty and alone…
until you come again.