Snow crunched beneath my feet as I walked towards the church. A string of icicles hung from the Lychgate.
A world in white, silent, the snow lay untouched by others. I looked back at my footprints, melting pools of snow lay behind me.
Unlit houses dark against the white, no sign of life. I felt alone, abandoned in a strange place. I have no memory of passing this way before.
The church door stood ajar, inside I felt warmer, welcomed. The early morning light threw a kaleidoscope of colour across the pews. The tiled floor danced, shimmered with light. With the door being open, I didn’t think anyone would mind if I wandered around.
Three steps beneath the church lay the most beautiful room, lit by the light coming from the tall arched windows. I counted twelve pillars, covered in carvings of cherubs, grapes and strange winged creatures I had no name for.
My mind told me I should be afraid, but I felt at home. As I moved through the space, touching each pillar as I passed, a feeling of having touched them before filled my thoughts. Memories that cannot be mine.
I was there with six others, bare feet and long white dresses. What we were doing there was not revealed to me. I did not run from this place, for we were happy. That much was clear from the smiles and the sound of laughter.
These strange blue pillars seemed to hold some kind of attraction that kept us playing here long after we should have been home asleep in our beds.
I couldn’t wait to get back to the B&B to ask about the church. Fresh snow had fallen, stealing my footprints. As I walked through the Lychgate, I felt a shiver grip my body. I heard a voice in my head and knew it belonged to my grandmother Sarah. “Don’t look back…”
I knew the tone, she meant for me to obey so I did as she bid. Reaching the B&B, I asked about the church.
“You’re frozen, come sit by the fire…” The landlady led me to an armchair, and I sat.
“You have been outside for hours…” She put a hot cup of tea in my hands and told me there was no church here. “It burnt down more than 100 years ago. We almost sent out a search party to look for you.”
I looked at the clock on the mantle, I had been gone for four hours. I remembered leaving at ten o clock that morning. I told her she must be wrong; I was inside the church.
She patted my hand like an aged aunt and told me again how it burned down, taking six young lives, young girls about to take their first communion.
I could not speak to her. Ignoring my grandmother’s warning, I went straight back to retrace my steps, but I could not find the church. I did find the remains of a graveyard and seven headstones. Tears froze on my face as I read each name. My own stood out like neon, Sarah Wilkes, aged ten…
Snow filled wonderland.
A painting that only winter can play out.
Tiptoe your way through.
Will you find Narnia, stay awhile?
Meet the wild unicorns.
Carefully navigate your way
Through the crisp snow lace patterns
That shift and change, turning darker.
Menacing sounds from behind you
Do not turn your head.
Do not look back, no pillar of salt here.
Keep walking, find the light.
Where the snow is starting to melt
Into pools of water, reflecting moving clouds.
Bird song, sweet sound of normal life ahead
Ignoring the warning whisper in your mind
That nothing is what it seems
In the strange woodland
Did you walk on, or turn around?
See what should not have been seen?
I pray you did not, for if you did.
The woodland spirits would not let you go…
© Anita Dawes 2021
The clock strikes the midnight hour
Birds sing in this snow filled empty space
Soon, smiling faces shall play there
For the next hour,
ghosts hold sway over this space
Laughing, remembering their days in the sun
Now snow, cold bites at their white fingers
Their laughter louder,
knocking snow from the leaves
Wind sweeps through the trees
Joining in their merriment
Hear, tiny voices can be heard
A whisper, will you remember us…
© anita dawes 2021
#Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 206 #SynonymsOnly
WELCOME TO TANKA TUESDAY!
This week, Kerfe Roig selected the words:
“mingle and drift“
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On virgin snow
Floating in the air
United with childhood
Free to remember days gone
I am in an old-time free fall
Time returning long lost memories
All given while I blend with virgin snow…
© anita dawes 2020