Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Once in Canterbury Cathedral

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Once in Canterbury Cathedral

Article excerpt

A small red arrow points "Martyrdom."

It leads to the place where Becket at prayer

bled into the stone at behest of his king.

I silently shuffle past with the rest,

stranger by stranger, over slabs

canted inward by centuries

of pilgrims, petitioners, onlookers.

I am neither saintly or brave, am here only,

some would say, because I am running away.

I even breathe like a runner, sweat in the nights,

feel, as now, walls closing in.

Midway along, the corridor empties

before the first altar. On risers

a clutch of musicians rehearse.

Their delicate, now grandiose strains

splendor up the vast, fanned vault.

We stop, entranced, taking up

our posts as they happen.

Their soloist, the violinist, is Chinese. …

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