Monk’s End or Gnourntide

Brother Aethelwine watched, quite passively , the blood that pooled at his ever-aching feet . The off-white lambswool of his habit became a crimson-purple, and almost flowered in the misplaced fecundity of his spilled capillaries.

He lugged his stiff mass onto the bed where he had slept since pre-manhood, and whose coarsened sheets became soft and warm. Had he been properly conscious, he would have noticed the metallic tang from his insanguinate emissions rising from his underneath. Instead he felt the tidal force of his head, dragging him down to the cold pillows.

The seminary bells rang. It was time for Terce. The cloisters had risen for vigil at half past three o’clock and, after pottering to clothe himself in the common tabard of his life descended into his chair as if by hexed by sonambule.

The one time of his monasticism at which he had attained interior silence was that morning. Although this was not a silence blessed by God …this was the serpent’s silence. This monk thought nothing. The procession past thought was made and her tapers snuffed, his objectivity now decled with the certain consistency of biological function: the final shuffle to the misericords carved by Thompson’s men.

‘Deus in adiutorium meum intende.’  It rose from these ascetic benches; their response was relived and trembled with angelic declivity:

‘Domine ,ad adjuvandum me festina .’

Our bleeding Brother Aethelwine ignored the ‘glorias’. He did not wish for his soul to be brought to tears.

For the last time he heaved his stubborn flesh, so tenuously fixed to his soul that a dull breeze could cause it to snap, up to the heavy , led-glazed window .The October air persisted through the gaps and his spine was cooled with air upon the blood.

The monastery gardens were stripped and their fruits now stored against the rain, lest it soften them like blood draining to the lowest point of a cadaver. Aethelwine had always esteemed autumn the only fertile season …all atremble to wait for the seeding of spring, and dead as the a-bacterial assurances of their days.

Aethelwine’s lips moved across the psalms whose contours he could hear but whose depths had begun to pierce him. An amorous incision.

He trilled across them and now could taste the circumstantial acidity of the blood which now passed, red as a lunaticed Missal, across the emollient throat and over his flooded palette which a lifetime’s simplicity had made raw and delicate .

It was a mistake to listen to the jackals’ insistence and they screeched over him and laughed a burning, slobbering reward. All Davidic lines were stopped in him; he no longer heeded the choir, the damp of death muffling his world.

The habit was now red, only the hems white (robbed of any blessing) like saturate lambskins when mauled by the disparate wolf.

‘Miserere me, Domine .’ He coughed.

‘Into Thy hands, O Lord Jesus Christ my God, I commit my spirit.’

‘In manus tuuas domine , commendo spiritum meum .’

Both the Latin and English came to him, neither any longer with native predominance.

The unchrism’d expiry came.

Saint Peter sang a wasted kyrie.



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