On your right, a colonnade opens out onto an abandoned quadrangle. A mature tree grows astride a fallen standing stone. It’s roots sprawling and exposed, their tendril grip reaching down over the stone to find the soil and bind it to the ground.
Between the roots, you see where ancient runes and glyphs remain, visible symbols carved into the stone, revealing clues, a codex from our pagan past. You wonder, playfully, imagining their meaning, feeling your love bloom within this bygone place, with its hallowed ground of earth and stone.
As you approach the final reach of these cloistered archways, the light beyond the open doorway seems bright with summer sunshine and you feel the warmth in the stone beneath your feet.
Reaching the open doorway, you pause to take in the beauty that greets you. Smooth stone steps, scooped hollow and foot worn descend, flanked with herbaceous borders of wildflowers, fox glove dahlia’s and delphiniums, they coil down to a lake of cobalt blue.
The water draws you, possessed of its own allure, you feel the energy of the lake calling you and you slowly descend the many stone steps, breathing in the wild scents, honey suckle and lavender.
Butterflies and dragonflies, with their iridescent petal wings, as beautiful as painted silk and as delicate as rice paper, flit and flurry between the borders and the blooms, untroubled by your arrival. Your mind finding a frequency calmer and more intense with floral beauty than anything you’ve ever known.
The lake draws nearer, it’s beckoning unabating. The sunlight, chrome yellow, its rays pushing through your white dress and soothing your skin from underneath, reassuring you the water is welcoming and equally warm.
The smooth stone beneath your bare feet dissolves, disappearing into softened sand, a powder of refined sugar cane granules indenting with the press of each fresh footstep.
Reaching the shallow edge of the water you feel the warmth bathe your feet. The sunlight beckons, seducing you to slip naked from your white dress, and no matter how self-conscious, somehow you concede, stepping further into the water and feeling it rise, climbing your calves, knees and thighs.
You let go, allowing the body of water to take your slender weight, falling backwards, feeling your naked torso and limbs held, floating, buoyed beneath the surface.
Looking back, you see the steep climb of the many stone steps, coiling their way up to the now tiny archway from where you’d descended. And beyond the archway, the looming, silhouette outline of the Abbey stands. Those sculpted stone columns reaching up, ruined, shouldering the weight of the sky on what remains of those broken buttresses.
Bayham. Your thoughts meander through the Abbey’s ruins while your body floats with ease and acquiesce, the welcome warm water enveloping you in a sapphire lake of azure blue. Imagining your fingertips tracing the braille between those exposed tree roots, finding the chiseled indentations of ancient glyphs and runes, those long-forgotten symbols carved into that now fallen standing stone.
You imagine the rings within that tree, each new ring a year in the making. Each ring reminiscent of the cartography of my open hand. My palm raised, held in yours, as slowly you trace the lines of my life with your fingertips, mapping out their meaning. Finding truth in how we feel, our energies revealed in our touch and unique to our union.
A peaceful, easy feeling. Reminding you of the certainty and strength you might find in the softly spoken voice of your Bayham lover. Patient, waiting and capable of control. You look back towards the stone steps, down to where they disappear into the sand, to the single thread of footprints and the rumpled white of your discarded dress, ending at the water’s edge, and from there you wonder.
Why am I alone?