"I watch the rain pour into the cloister garth," said Sister Elizabeth. "It batters the flowers into sad submission. The cloister is my shelter from the rain and the wickedness of the world. I used to watch the downpour of the rain from the nursery window as a child; Molly, the maid, said rain was the tears of God for the woes of the world. I saw the raindrops hit against the pane and tried to touch them with my fingers. Sister Blaise kissed the Madonna in the cloister last night; she closed her eyes like one in love. She is my sister in Christ, my love of heart and head. I watch her in my secret way; her bridegroom is my bridegroom, too. My sister, Vivien, visits me in my lonely hours; she was my one companion. She married the Monster of Manchester who beats her and neglects her wants and needs. The raindrops hit the flower heads, the flowers bend and flop like beaten wives. My father dreamed of better things; my mother painted in the attic; her paintings hang in their frames like the captured dead. Sister Blaise comes through the cloister; her walk inflames my heart and head. She kneels by the statue of Christ and kisses His feet; her lips brush the tortured one. She must not see me gazing; I must look away like a child seeing its parents kiss. Father kissed my mother as she painted hell; the colours haunt my nights with the screams she painted. Sister Blaise walks behind me; her feet tread her own Golgotha. In the refectory I watch her hands as they rise and fall; I watch her face as she listens; her lips as she eats and prays. The bell from the tower rings for Tierce; I must leave the rain and battered flowers and enter the church. The wind in the cloister whispers about me; the wind, said Molly, is the whispering of God. Il dio 蠩l miei amore e guida, Sister�Francis says; God is my love and guides me; my bridegroom awaits me; my bridegroom wants my presence in His chamber. My fingers dip in the stoup; the water cleanses my hands like Pilate before me. The sisters are gathered; the abbess stares at the hanging Christ, fingering her beads like a child at play. My mother's art haunts my nights; the colours torment like Dante's Inferno. Sister Blaise is near to my side; her voice is close to my ear. Molly whispered words to help me sleep; her arms enfolded me in my childhood fears; her warm breath tickled my neck in my hours of sleep. Sister�Francis stands opposite; her eyes lowered like a self-conscious bride, her hands caressing the breviary like a babe in arms. In my heart and soul, my bridegroom murmurs; His whispering voice echoes around me; His closeness comes and goes like waves of the sea. Last night I dreamed of Sister Blaise; her lips and mine met in a holy kiss; her hand and mine touched like doves in proximity. The smell of incense lingers nearby; the scent of Sister Blaise mingles and soothes. I read and sing; my voice lost in the voices of others, my soul awaiting my loving groom. Father drank in his secret room; he lost his God in the battles of war. His friends' deaths haunted his dreams; his soul was starved of all grace and light. My bridegroom hangs from His cross all battered and torn; His limbs are spread wide to embrace the world as He embraces me in my nights of climbing to prayer. The voices are still; the office is ended. We rise and go like brides to our labours; like brides we walk with minds on our bridegroom; set to our tasks like ones in love. I come, my precious; my warm hands are ready; my lips await your abundant kisses."