saw it first, this bloody work of heart,
conceived in my mind’s eye in the beginning,
or what you call the beginning. Time
was the canvas I prepared to paint on.
I drew its outline in the life of Abraham,
my palette history, its colours mixed
in Israel’s rise and fall. I worked from life:
against a landscape of an Eden spoiled
my people with their untamed rebel hearts
stared out through masks of beauty scarred with sin.
Painstaking detail. Light and darkness. Then
the hardest thing I ever did: love
was daubed with every brush-stroke of the Spirit
on the unforgiving texture of the soul.
Finally to shape the central figure
I needed human hands. I laboured with Mary
to bring the enterprise to birth. Three more decades
of preparation were meticulous—
it is not irony that I was framed
and hung up here to die: it is the point.
I am the artist and the portrait too,
painting out at last in the blood of God
a perfect self-expression: my still life.
This is my masterpiece and it is finished.
Sixth poem of seven in the sequence words from the cross.
© Godfrey Rust 2003, email@example.com. See here for permissions.