Looking for the Wombat – a poem by Rupert Loydell

Looking for the Wombat

I’m looking for the wombat in the altarpiece,
although a serpent or camel would do. Animal,
vegetable or mineral? Water, earth, rock or fire?
How do we portray the centre of the universe,
the star maker and dreamer who made it just so?
Gold leaf, vivid pink and blue, or austere gothic
overtones? Cartoon strip predella reveals moments
in a life, the main screen focuses on main event,
side panels offer relevant asides, it is where
Adam & Eve are sent out of Eden or angels
announce what God wants to happen or be.
Titular saints, as well as episodic narratives
from the life of Jesus are often disposed
symmetrically on either side of the principal
subject. Lavish and analogous sacred imagery
is intended to stress the liturgical relationship
between Christ’s presence and the Word.
Sacred symbols and figures also came to be,
traced from the palimpsest of patristic artifacts
as well as from contemporary textual accounts;
formal development shaped by the vernacular.
The altarpiece is an artistic device derived from
a combination of subjects, although wombats are
hard to find and I have never seen one in the flesh.

© Rupert M Loydell


Rupert Loydell is a writer, editor and abstract artist. His many books of poetry include Dear Mary (Shearsman, 2017) and The Return of the Man Who Has Everything (Shearsman 2015); and he has edited anthologies such as Yesterday’s Music Today (co-edited with Mike Ferguson, Knives Forks and Spoons Press 2014), and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos (Salt, 2010).

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