Poem ‘Pomegranates’

Pomegranates

They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.

I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
über-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.

Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.

In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes and whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles

brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit

and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.

Almost believing.

image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com
**image from part of an historical reconstruction I did in watercolour of Spalding Priory, as it might have appeared in the fifteenth century.

Advertisements

39 thoughts on “Poem ‘Pomegranates’

  1. Pomegranegranates, food of the Goddess and Gods, contains seeds of knowledge…wisdom
    I think you probably eat them , for such words as you have written here
    contain profound thinking i do believe, that is if one questions their belief maybe they realize it is ever-evolving as we are ….
    the painting is beautiful…I am envious you are a writer and an artist…
    see…you do eat pomegrantes ! …

    Thank you for once again taking me on a journey somewhere I hadn’t been

    Take Care…
    You Matter

    )0(
    BlessedBe
    maryrose

    Like

  2. Hi,
    I love the painting, so much detail, the cart going through the entrance, the Nuns that are attending the garden, the beautiful grounds and buildings inside the entrance, the horse at the stable, it all fits so beautifully, a truly lovely painting.

    The poem is magnificent, and does go so well with the painting, really wonderful work.

    Like

  3. David this is one painting i kept looking at for a very long time..this place the painting tells so many stories,poetries…its so beautiful the people in the painting the beautiful colours and the shadows…superb play of colours…beautiful

    Like

  4. Wow–I think I’ve said this before, but it’s always hard to decide which I love better–your art or your poems. I don’t get over here regularly, but when I do, I seem to be drawn into the art. This one in particular is such that I feel I could just step onto one of the roads and walk–smell the air, hear the quiet sounds of cathedral life…

    Like

  5. Very, very beautiful visit to church, DF! Love the wonderful painting, a little different style here today–terriffic! Especially loved these words:
    Smiles of recognition, a nodding
    acceptance as if to say –
    ‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
    better than those above them in Church.”

    Like

  6. Hi, and thank you very much once again! Yes, I have often thought this, especially England, that the volunteers are more ‘pure in heart’ than those who are paid by the church.

    Like

  7. David, I love this many-layered poem – there is so much depth in the imagery (and philosophy between the lines)… so very much that I must come back and read again. And the painting is beautiful with almost a 3-D clarity. Thank you for sharing this!

    Like

  8. This is a narrative poem of true power. The image of a young man kneeling,

    wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

    of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
    He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
    as if imploring Him to be real,
    to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
    and then, somehow, to save him as well.

    is so contemporary, juxtaposed with your doubts and the faith of the monks that built Saint Oswald’s shrine wraps history and the present into a meditation that is as good as any poem you have ever written.
    The last part of the final stanza

    …A sudden,
    unexpected pride washes over me
    while he pauses on her ground to think –
    where I was once intrigued.

    Almost believing.

    captures an essence of who you are: Proud of the history recounted in the poem, even the story of Mary Queen of Scots, proud of the shrine where you once intrigued, almost believing in the faith that leads you

    to light a candle outside
    Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

    in silence inside the tidy chapel,
    to pray for a poor boy in pain,

    contemplating about body parts of saints that have lost the power to heal that they once had in a time when belief was automatic and filled with the power claimed by the monks

    who consumed this place, where Domesday
    came and went without event,
    where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
    in an undrying ink.

    This analysis does not do full justice to the poem. There are more layers that I see than I have uncovered here, but this is a great work.

    Like

  9. You must have explored this day yourself David, no? How else could you have described the moment with such tenderness! Beautiful painting, what a talent you have.

    Like

  10. ‘way back’ in march i tried commenting on this poem at least a dozen times! it still burns as one of my favorites, and i was grateful for the ‘search’ prompt so i could again savor the poem.
    thank you,
    z

    Like

  11. z thank you so much. This one took a lot of work and is about Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, who is buried at Peterborough cathedral. Her symbol was pomegranate and I imagined what England must have seemed like to her, coming from the heat of Spain to England cold, northerly reaches. I’m not a catholic but every time I see her grave, I feel for her. Thank you once again and best wishes

    Like

  12. Thanks so much for expanding on the history! Wow, I am touched even deeper.

    This past weekend I bought a pomegranate tree and will be planting it later today. Though I usually don’t name the trees in my garden, this new tree will be called, “Catherine.’ Her toes will always be rooted in the magical earth of the equator, and her fingertips will never be cold!

    Z

    Like

  13. I’m glad that I have been inside some of the big European cathedrals because they seem somehow more grand, more valid than those in the states. They are certainly capable of creating awe in a disbeliever such as myself. Your painting and your words of pomegranate emphasis put me into that place of quiet reverence and wonder. I too, was surprised by the painting and was interested to see from one of your replies, that it is an older work. But I love it just the same.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s