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The Way of the Cross

Jemma  Borg


The Way of the Cross

In the valley, a dog barks: its bark
becomes the valley. Then the man singing
outside the pastry shop: briefly, his voice

breathes the valley. The valley: bark and song.
Then silence or just the almost-heard
sound of heat rising up to the rocky peaks,

through the stiff yellow grasses, the stiff pine trees
shading the Stations of the Cross.
Each step takes me back on myself

and higher. The sounds to my left, then my right,
are voices in my head: I am heat,
and foot by foot on the path, I am the rustle of pines,

then song, then bark. Then fountain:
up by the chapel, water flows over a short fall of stones
and into a pipe hollowed in the valley side.

In the chapel, behind the locked door,
the song and bark and gentle trickling are caught
at the corners of the roof and in the shadows.

When I first looked through the window sealed with wire,
I saw a man on the altar and was shocked.
When I looked again, I could see the falseness

of his skin, the slight fading of his plaster garments,
his stare of fire wrestling with a mountain.
Down in the valley of chime, where the sounds

wind into things again – the dog leashed on a rope,
the man bent to the road, with the song snagged
on the hillside like sheep hair – I come to

the roadside shrine where a star settles above
the immaculate child. There, where the persimmons grow,
a silence burns, a silence deep as wine.



This poem with 'The Ladder' won the the Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition 2012 Jemma Borg has been to the Almassera Vella several times on courses with Mimi Khalvati


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