Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,
stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,
held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,
the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,
twisted and anchored deep into faith,
by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.
Monuments of glory, extracted from pauper’s pockets,
alms for the destitute and knives for the enemy,
brick and stone seated into the hillside,
suffer in your humanity, weep and be washed clean,
soldier return to maintain a homeland, soaked in blood.
Cassocked crucible redeemer, kneel and unto this ring press thy lips,
kiss, worship, bow, prostrate lie before fine marble,
whisper all into the grill,
bind thy limb, and mouth, choke off forbidden words,
in the darkness fear the retribution,
for untold sins at seven.
Cry out for the forgotten children,
wrapped in rags living in the doorway,
on the entrance to exalted palaces,
gleaming goods within, shining out from lust and greed,
stretching out across the broken pavement,
to illuminate the steps,
were the holy warriors bled and the drunk sleeps.
By Ruairí de Barra.
San Michele is a Jesuit church located in the ancient Stampace district of Cagliari, Sardinia between via Azuni and via Ospedale. The church has an attached structure, the former Jesuit Novitiate House, that nowaday host the Military Hospital.
It has a wonderful dome which seems to change colour with the passing sun and it struck me that it was like the scales of a fish changing as it moves through a sunlit pool. The beauty visible inside through the security bars and gates contrasted starkly against the beggar and the drunk sitting outside. A rich historic interior separated from the graffiti and general run-down condition of the backstreets surrounding it.
I sat for a while to take it all in for a little distance as I drank coffee and sketched, while on shore leave from Operation Sophia in the summer of 2018.
Published in ‘Live Encounters’ September 2018. You can read the four poems on the Live Encounters website or download a free .pdf copy just by clicking here.
Live Encounters is a wonderful publication and all of its issues, as well as special editions, may be found on its website at https://liveencounters.net/
I would like to thank Mark Ulyseas for seeing fit to include my work in the company of some incredibly talented people.