JEROME IN THE WILDERNESS by Martha McCollough

JEROME IN THE WILDERNESS
……………………..by an unknown painter
by Martha McCollough

.
In a God’s-eye
view all the edges
are sharp

Tiny but distinct
Jerome
picnics on a ledge
with his apocryphal lion
sunlight falling
on him in particular

does he wonder
if God might prefer him
…….unwashed
in stained starving rags

as he has recommended
to the Roman matrons
…….some now (presumably)
…….in heaven but no

he’s wearing rose silk
he’s brought along his tall crucifix,
a skull, the egg-shaped
stones he likes

the elegant apparatus
of his project

his hat’s a red bright
circle on the grass

behind him
from a stony spindle
green hills
tumble to the horizon

there is
so much to see

the light
that burnishes
the sawtooth
edge of every leaf

small castles
punctuating the wilderness

and in a corner
awkward camels
crossing a narrow bridge

the lion
dozes

Jerome
kneeling half out
of his robe
holds up a stone

ready to hit himself and
to go on hitting

hard

until God pays
attention


Martha McCollough is a writer and video artist living in Chelsea, Massachusetts. She has an MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Baffler, Cream City Review, Crab Creek Review, and Salamander, among others. Her videopoems have appeared in Triquarterly, Datableed, and Atticus Review.

 

 

 

Image credit: Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon, Portugal. Via Wikipedia

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