In obedience to the bell I work, eat and pray.
I keep custody of my eyes gladly, strive for silence
in every movement, walk between chapel and cell
with head bent, hands clasped, measured steps.

It was not a passion for Christ that brought me here.
Some days my soul seems bare as the flagstones
in the cloister but there is balm in the daily polishing
of the chapel floor with beeswax and turpentine,

in the way sorrow finds its home among windfalls
in the orchard, in what stirs at dawn when,
as if from the depths of a well, low intoning begins,
collects strength, a long plume of plainsong into the nave.

I have known storms that buffer and batter the heart.
I chose a hard bed, bare boards, a bulwark.

Jane Clarke

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