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Monday 9 May 2011

The Ruined Church

Two echoes. Two
reflected images.
                         Two figures back to back
in facing mirrors.
                         Diminutive, my heroes.
Diminution is at work here
                         on a massive scale.
Somewhere there are more of them,
                         there must be images of these
two men receding to infinity
lost in this aerosol of mist.

The eye can't focus from this broken socket of grey stone,
looking out from which
                         detail and distance vanish in the rain,
hide themselves in insignificance
something of the old gods once again.

Brothers of the rock,
                         they cling to what they know.
For them the mists have cleared.
                         The light
in which they climb -
each in his own way:
the outside man
                         by toe and finger hold
towards his pinnacle;
the other crucified, nailed
to his own rock wall where once the altar stood -
                         is not of sun or stars,
but past and present hold them
in the same
                         poor visibility, the same
cold spray
as each assumes the other's
shade of grey.

In any true perspective
                         one would dwarf the other,
but today the rain has telescoped their worlds
and pooled their true dimensions.

The inside rock was hewn out there.
                         Out there the rock
                         and rock man
seem indifferent
towards my God-man on his cross
                         watching his twin out there across
from him
cocking a snook at the danger.

Out there
the fall
(if there's to be a fall)
                         will seem the greater.

I see no place where church and mountain separate.
West face, East wall:
the rain has welded them together.
How would the inside man have fared,
                         I wonder,
with pitons for support instead of nails?


Laurie Kolp said...

A profound and thought-provoking piece, Dave.

flaubert said...

This is just lovely, Dave, and that last stanza is brilliant.


Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A new, stunning, visionary force.

Madame DeFarge said...

I love the imagery that you use here. Just brilliant.

Unknown said...

Rain, the great unifier. Here in the land of the spring drought we await its bounty!

Dave King said...

Good to have your comments. Thank you for them.

The Tame Lion
Hi, and a warm welcome to my blog. Many thanks for your kind comment.

Thank you for your - as always - much appreciated comment.

Very generous comment. Thank you so much.

Madame DeFarge
Thank you for a most encouraging response.

We've just had our first in a long while, so I understand your comment. My fingers are crosse for you! Thanks for visiting.

Jim Murdoch said...

It took me a while to get through this one, Dave, in fact I wrote an entire post based on how hard I was finding the reading of it and the possible reasons for that, nothing to do with your ability as a poet, more surrounding the effect reading so much online is having on my ability to read a poem the way it needs to be read. But it’ll be a while before that goes up.

Once I did finally find the mental wherewithal to look at this I have to say I still struggled with it. My main problem is picturing where this mirror was. In most churches you would expect to see the figure of Christ at the head of the church in the apse to the east (at least according to the handy layout I found online just now) so where on the west wall was this mirror located? For some reason I’ve been assuming it was a great mirror but I guess that doesn’t have to be the case.

I do like the overall comparison of Christ to a climber – that works well – but if you could clear up the mirror thing I would be grateful.

Dave King said...

My apologies for having overlooked these comments of yours. I hadn't realised until now that you had posted them. The mirrored image is an unintended red herring. It is the word "mirrored", that is causing the problem. I perhaps should have used the word echo or echoed. The climber is on the West face of a mountain,
the crucifix on the the East wall of the ruined church. The speaker, seeing them both, sees them as echoes of each other.
My thanks again for a very useful response.