Federico Barocci “St Jerome” (1598)


By David Chorlton



The empty habit of a priest
appears between Heaven and Earth
with the cross on a string of beads
still flowering on the breast.

His sandals, alight with needles,
rest on the incline
where he stepped out of his body,
and red blossoms have grown
at the nine tips of his whip
that put down roots since last
it stung his back.

The shadow of his horizontal arms
is burned into the pale stones
where he was nailed
to the heat

and the bones he left behind
withered into straws
which were taken for a nest
by the immortal Phainopepla.


About the Author: David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird, is out from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

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