“And for a moment, it feels like home.”
If you’re wondering “what is a cathedral?” Amber-Page’s brilliant poem sums up, not just Peterborough Cathedral, but all of our amazing cathedrals.
Written after her day as ‘writer in residence’ on 17th November it was debuted as part of the Syntax Poetry Festival at The Undercroft, Serpentine Green later that month.
Listen and watch Amber-Page read her poem on YouTube here.
There Is Space For You Here
Cross the threshold from market bustle to sudden cool quiet.
Step struck to slow shuffle by the shimmer of shadow and sunlight.
Breath swept by a breadth, by a depth
That the eye cannot encapsulate.
And you may think it strange to find a place
With both silent discos and benedictions.
With fairies and Latin, markets and Matins,
Queens, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons,
Moons and earths and space-crafts.
But this expanse of stone and stained glass,
Can encompass all these contrasts.
Architecture ancient and language archaic,
Tell of a world reawakened, a city recreated,
Founded in history but future-facing,
Its stones worn smooth by steps of generations.
Some are drawn by leaflets, some guided by visions,
Some come to lose themselves in spaciousness,
And others have come searching.
Reunions with relatives,
Tourists crossing continents,
Christmas shoppers, coach trip hoppers,
Teenagers and toddlers.
First dates and good mates seeking shelter on the rainy days.
From school trips in September to summer sunset Shakespeare plays.
Born-bred locals, new arrivals, in accents multi-faceted,
Converging somewhere vast enough to match their span of languages.
There is space for all their stories,
In altar, apse and archway.
Supplications of centuries cradled,
In chapel, cross and café.
And I know there are those who seek this painted roof because they have no other.
I know there are those who come in grief and need and hunger.
Those who come to sit on seats engraved with names of loved ones.
Those with a heart so heavy they need somewhere else to put it.
And I too have been lost.
I too have faced those days when I wished I had not woken up,
And I know the day will come
When not one stone will be left upon another.
But there is more to this place than bricks and mortar;
It is not cement that binds a cathedral,
It is our bonds between each other.
It is the sweetness of wine and wafers,
It is the clasping hands with strangers,
It is community, and cups of tea, communion and conversation.
It is the candlelight, the choirs, the quiet and contemplation.
It is beginnings, birth and baptism,
But also death and resurrection,
The bittersweet joy of endings,
Of remembrance and redemption.
There is space for you here,
In this medieval marvel of hammer and chisel.
There is a place for you here,
Where everyday moments feel like miracles.
You may have come from far away, and you may have further still to go;
But there is room for you beneath this painted roof,
And for a moment, it feels like home.
© Amber-Page, 2019
Follow Amber-Page on Twitter @AmberPagePoetry