Leaves had started falling outside
In a late summer gloom of fledgling rainclouds
Reflected in foggy puddles underfoot
We trooped on through, out of step,
Packs on our back and foreign coins
In our pockets. The first discarded leaves;
Big five-fingered horse chestnuts, face down,
Showing waterlogged veins in the inch-deep pool.
Jackdaws fluttered outside the gates,
Hoking at dirt, pecking at apple-cores,
Flitting off as we arrived. We ventured in,
Catching the moment in digital memory:
An irregular holding cell, walls towering
At the end of a hallway that withered and shrank,
Though a door that led into sky-scraping judgement,
And the window that spoke of Saint Daniel;
There was silence in that room, space for silence
That loomed and condensed three stories overhead,
That rained ash-snow, staining the railway lines,
Unholy blend of hair and ground thigh-bone,
Snow on a mountain of odd shoes and lost luggage,
Marked in fading chalk with its last destination,
Deep darkened snow, overwhelming, drawing
The air from the room that had space for more silence.
I managed to open the door. Disorientated,
I took a breath to regain my bearings. Upstairs,
An exhibit that asked to be walked upon. Gently
Stepping between grotesque iron faces, frozen in
Wordless death-masks, turned to iron and concrete;
I lost my footing, and the faces, disturbed, screamed,
Awakened, echoing off high walls, reverberating;
As I left I heard iron crunch and cry out.
A jackdaw flew home as we escaped to the surface,
Apple-heart in mouth, into the sunshine.
I put the camera away, resting easily between
Victuals, tour maps and a handful of foreign coins.
I couldn't help looking back. It was still there,
A multi-story building under receding rainclouds.
We walked home, out of step, in uncomfortable silence.