Russian Tabernacle

A gold box one cubit high.
Three of the sides are engraved.
and every available surface studded
with pearls, rough-cut rubies emeralds and sapphires.
This God's house is cheerier 
than a birthday cake dotted with Smarties.

At the back John sucks his beard 
while on his desk an eagle clutches an ink pot.
Matthew's well is held by an angel 
while Mark and Luke make do with tables.

On the side at the right Jesus stands 
jug in hand as six men approach him
the foremost caught leaning his cheek against the jug.
Above is a dumpy hourglass figure
with not so much cut as chipped and sanded
rubies and emeralds stuck on.

On the left a minaret contains the trinity
under which the other six apostles continue their supper.

At the front six ceramic scraps
and two figures, one Mary, close in on a crucifix
with a lovely little skull and some bones at its foot.
Jesus is by now dead, his face no more
expressive than that of a child 
conked out after a very long story.
The cross is gold, the wounds made up.

The six discs are the stations.

Above this the paraclete
a wild hook-beaked predator
its vision darkened by a tilting halo
freezes in mid-burst through the surface.
Dissent is death
and death itself is being gutted.
At the corners of the roof
four ordinary cherubs surmount
little cubes with pearls on.

Over it all, toilet roll pink, pierced by a rod of gold
and topped by a cross on a little globe,
burns a raw fist-sized lump.
Irregular surfaces vibrate, reflect,
feed on the vitals, flicker joyfully.
This is the shape of faith beyond belief.
This is the gate of the grave thrown open.
The unachieved craftsman is saved.

  Contact Wild Honey Press Links Reviews List of Publications Real Audio Complete Texts Gallery Home Page