The ruins of the abbey stretched out
Before our small band of travelers
Seven of us at war with ourselves and each other.

Awed by the grandeur of Canterbury
Awed by what had been rather than what was
We explored the grounds in pairs and alone.

A marker for Augustine
On his own mission fourteen centuries ago
At rest now in a foreign land.

Ancient rocks outlined hallways and sanctuary
Remnants of archways framed an altar in the afternoon sun
We scrambled over walls with cameras and wide eyes.

Pictures, scattered laughter, and silence amid lengthening shadows
We sat on the grassy rise above the ruins in the cool,
English summer afternoon
Relaxing on the edge of history.

And for just that moment peace reigned
Oblivious to the endings and beginnings that lay ahead
For that moment we were truly alive, suspended in time.

No anger, no arguments, no fear
Surrounded by our own company, the ruins in front,
the hedges behind
Another band of Chaucer’s pilgrims finding shelter.

The train leaving soon for London
We slipped out the gate quietly into the evening chill
Peace lingered, though not nearly as long as the memory.

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