Age of saints
And furthermore there was Cuthbert
out at the northern rim of the world,
where the sky hurled birds and storms
and the sea was a bitter desert.
At night whilst brethren snored
in beehive reeking huts,
he climbed down to the shore,
divesting coarse wool habit.
Eelgrass and shingle, ankles
clenched against that fiery cold,
forward into Northumbrian tide
– a prow of bone and skin.
And numb, both arms unfurled,
with gulls’ and forest wolves’ outcry
invoked the Lord; as waters poured,
eleison, Christe eleison,
No Adversary could break his will –
the channelled fury of the introvert.
At pewter dawn with milk seas still
he crashed back onto land.
Two sleek otters, splashing light,
played out on the sand. To some
spying monk, it seemed they
dried and warmed his feet.
This holy paragon of Bede? Or flesh
at war with the wiles of nuns?
And thus, with faith enrobed, the Saint
ascends to morning prayers and myth.
Copyright © Andrew Dalgleish 2015
Andy Dalgleish lives in West Cornwall where he teaches History and scratches out occasional verses.