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The Inn on the Road to Bemerton

A single candle flame, the yellow twin
of the cathedral's spire visible
today across the plain, dark dolphin's fin
on Salisbury's green sea, and compline bells -

and all that's lit is Jane's face and the girl's,
both bent in prayer, a pigeons' burble, then
a darkness absolute. The pamphlet furled
in my cold hand - the woodcuts of three men

at Colchester chained amid redressing flames -
that the carter thrust on me this afternoon,
burns darker still, the ink and ash of names,
ours to forget or not forget, not soon.

The rafters swallow shadow into shade,
and make the babel rising from downstairs
spend questions that can never be repaid.
The lingering book I study is of air.

I have acquired painfully my doubts.
Tomorrow we'll be in Bemerton by nones,
but early, with the drovers we'll go out
to watch the sun come up on the great stones.