Guest Poem by Frank McMahon

Frank McMahon lives in Cirencester Published: At the Storm’s Edge  January 2020 and A Different Land, 2022, both by Palewell Press. First prize in  Gloucester-shire Writers’ Network Poetry Comp-etition 2022. Podcasts with Ragged Foils Productions: Detach from World; long poem Family Gathering. Play broadcast on local radio, A Death in Flanders in 2018.

Saving Byzantium

Every time he asks, is this allowed?
They do not paint God’s face,
our enemies. They are
ocean, plague, unanswered swords,
surely God must love them more?

They tell him: this is a settled question
and this is your commission,
The Triumph of Orthodoxy.
Only God and Faith can save this city now.
So pray, forgive your enemies,
paint as if God is with you in this room.

The monk takes wood and tempera
creates within the icon
a copy of a second, ancient and revered.

Child and Virgin veiled in damson blue,
the frame red like ripening mulberry,
held by saints against a wall of gold.
Martyrs, Emperor and Patriarch,
Byzantium summoning the past
to stand against the future.