The last Trappist eats alone,
every morning a bowl of lukewarm oats and honey,
milk, two eggs.
The early hours are still cool,
he spends them in the garden against the crumbling chapel wall.
By the time he finishes weeding, watering,
the ache has crept back into his knees.
Lunch is a heel of bread and sour beer,
whittled away between bouts of coughing.
The monastery cellar stinks of spoiled grain,
a single cloudy barrel to show for today’s toil,
his back twisted by the time it settles among its cobwebbed peers.
He has no time for prayers anymore,
the closest thing he has left, his daily sacrament,
is watching the sun wink out on the horizon.
He can already feel the mortal bubble in his lungs.
The courtyard nearly hums with loneliness,
ready to be truly abandoned.
For dinner he bites into a mealy tomato,
then leaves it to wither on a windowsill.
When he lays down, his arms ache,
his head is clouded,
no thoughts beyond these four walls.
Brother Gagneux appears again in Vault 008.