wordsout by godfrey rust
The sailing of the ark  < 37 of 45


We move with a certain grace, like skaters
going quickly on the thin ice

of our lives and theology, afraid
of what might happen if we stop too long

to contemplate the depths beneath. This
picture, drawn by a dying woman, pulls apart

the brittle surface of our lives to show
the gaps in our broken world let in no darkness

but the light that always shines
unseen behind it; its jagged

border frames the outline of a body
created purely out of pain; and that

the pieces of our lives are held in place
by what so often looks just like his absence.

The remarkable sculpture which is described and shown here was used as a focus for meditation in a ‘day of silence’ led by David Runcorn in which Tessa and I took part, and during which this sonnet was written. Scilla Verney died before completing the engraving, but a version has been created from her sketches at David Runcorn’s (then) church, St Stephen’s Ealing. I think its power derives principally from its paradox: the apparent crucified (female) figure at its centre is not there.