A timbered enclosure protects the tower –
lichen-pocked granite, splayed-windows
rattling shutters latched with dark brass hooks.
Oak crossbeams transect the Great Hall –
a musty, forgotten room, metalwork and sculpture
cobwebbed tracery, coarse-woven Persian tapestries.
Collapsed pillars spill Purbeck-marble and infill.
Rubble-heaps block the doorways to Lodge and Chantry.
Secretive in the rushlight
swamped by the scent of moonflower
calmed by the thick smell of tallow
we rest on the hearthrug.
Softwood kindling bursts from a corroded iron box.
Clothed in the heat of blazing sycamore
shadows merge in darkness.
A curtain pulled to one side shows an alcove.
On a slate ledge, devotional bowls clustered in a circle
burning herbs – coltsfoot, golden rod, mimosa.
We steal past the courtyard of the Tudor College
turn into the lane behind the library
run towards the sheds
drag a row boat
into the river