“Superstitious images”, a phrase
that plays well with men in control.
A need to stamp out the old ways
overrides all tenderness, all pity.
Masons who know stone’s mystery,
carving with patience and grace
compelled to deface what they love.
Relics of scorned belief are cut,
wrenched away to fall, fracture
piecemeal, to become fragments
piled high, the dead on the field of battle.
Like anchorites they are walled in,
forgotten as the centuries pass.
Found in a flurry of revivalism
to be thrust back into oblivion.
A diaspora banished, displaced.
Between equinox, solstice, earth turns,
the clocks spill, sift, tick on and on
until a time of atonement comes.
Resurrection, nesting in the white tissue
Each piece heals, in this place of safety.
Eyes of a saint fresh and clear
as if newly painted, watch us.
Folds of linen contoured precisely,
coils of hair, gilding bright threaded.
An embroidered neckline
linked to a baby’s outstretched hand.
And here between naked feet,
cloven hooves; a camel’s head
signal the Baptist in a hair robe.
We are stilled by this harmony.
Patricia Robson, October 2016
‘Dear St Cuthbert’s,
Thank you so much for the recent opportunity to visit your lovely church, especially at the time of the Heritage Weekend. We had a most inspirational introduction to “the story of the reredoses”, and then on Saturday a museum visit to see the fragments of sculpture.
It has prompted a poem which I offer as a thank you for a very memorable visit, a highlight of our holiday in Wells.
With best wishes