Home Territory – a poem by Stephen Kingsnorth

Home Territory

(Reflecting on Painting: Rejection at Nazareth)

I wonder if he always
occupied the same synagogue seat,
his sabbath set in childhood,
as with a pew rental place.

Did he ever dig a rib
at some trilling cantor’s pitch,
or sigh along with longer psalms,
stifle his gaping mouth,
or muse on a protuberance,
beneath shaded eyes,
or at least imagine
the barley bread, the goat’s cheese,
or olives, dates waiting ahead?
Did legumes wander into legomenon,
surely that a normal course,
of wisdom, growing stature
beyond the early phase?
It was his custom, weekly,
poor exegesis, menu spare,
expositions that missed the mark,
old men ceasing to dream dreams.

But village lad home visits,
seated, sawdust spreads the scroll,
scans scripture, but stops short.
Curtailed, docked, the prophet pruned,
the custom passage trimmed,
defeat of enemies excised.
He had it seems overstepped the mark
by not reading so;
had the boy over-stretched himself,
ignored his father’s tools
and chiselled ideas well beyond
station of supposed son?

Not that we would recognise
less lection be our trade,
know such sins of omission
but they textually did;
so cliff-edging anger
so out-of-the-blue to us,
makes perfect sense to them.


Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from Methodist Church ministry, has had pieces accepted by Nine Muses Poetry; Voices Poetry; Eunoia Review; Runcible Spoon; Ink Sweat and Tears; The Poetry Village; From the Edge; Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry & Allegro Poetry Magazines. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

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