in the cloister

by uzwi

I have no interest in how these cloisters used to be decorated. I want what’s left, the pale rhiolite columns, the central fountain, the sun on the arches. The sense of an ending afternoon. Light slants in from the right. Each side of the cloister is six arches long. The courtyard is cobbled with smooth oval stones tipped up on their thin edges. In its centre an octagonal pavement at four corners of which are placed two fluted pillars. From each point of the pavement radiate star shapes in cobbles of a darker colour, between which a short, parched vegetation grows–not grass but some herb. In the centre is the fountain, its basin supported by a plinth of caryatids. There is a thin, intermittent central jet of water. A veil of droplets hangs down from the edges of the basin. From above, the structure is four-lobed, like a clover. The sun bakes down on it–the stones are too hot to touch–but it’s as if the heat is generated here between the eight pillars & the pistil of the fountain, then projected upward & outward. Since its inception this was a culture of engines, some architectural, some sacrificial; some both. I cannot manage the heat out there, & retreat to the cloister across the cobbles. I don’t know for what purpose the cloister was constructed. I don’t want to know.