Leti Hawthorn’s Poetic Response to Shadows of the Divine

Public Faith is delighted to publish poems written by Leti Hawthorn in response to several of the pieces in the Shadows of the Divine art exhibition, which ended last week. Leti is currently finishing her Graduate Diploma in Theology and Religious Studies at New College, University of Edinburgh. She will soon begin her postgraduate certification in Healthcare Chaplaincy at Glasgow, and plans to work in hospice care. Her increasing interest in combining pastoral care with physical activity comes from her twelve years in the fitness industry, in which she works with individuals who have terminal illness and degenerative disease. Leti is a Quaker, a poet, and a freelance health-and-wellbeing consultant. Click on the title of each poem to see the image she is responding to.

Elisabeth Frink, Pietà

I didn’t realise he was dead but thought he was resting in the sun
I remembered the soldier Wilfred Owen described
“if anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know”

life-class model
reclines against the wall
soaks up the sun
comfortable in his skin

the soldier is dead
this Jesus is dead
the students
are none the wiser

warm flesh background
confuses further
here is life not death again

she borrowed the clay from Futility
placed her Jesus beside Owen’s man
she brought him to life with strokes of her brush
and willed him to stay with her pen.

Theyre Lee-Elliot, The Crucified Tree–The Agony

Colmans English mustard yellow
agonised tree broken and scarred
wounds smart as the vinegar bites
bark bleeds resin as the nails hit

the form being crucified
is the tree itself
the arms of the cross
are the branches of the tree
one broken – it hangs by a thread

barbed wire draped across the form
metal thorns a cruel stole1
horizontal ramus2 the agonised head
neck strains
windpipe strangled
gravity wins as life ebbs.

1 stole – long scarf as worn by a priest in vestments
2 ramus – a botanical name for branch

Patrick Heron, Crucifix and Candles: Night

simple lead-framed window
frames the night-blue world
while little stick-man Jesus
hangs out upon his cross

 his feet are crossed
his left arm crook
he leans against his death

his streetlamps are two candle flames
one flickers and goes out
the lamp-posts are the candlesticks
the candles robbers both

the breeze through the cracks
in the lead-framed window
whispers in the shadows
it plays with life
snuffs out the flame
then pierces the stick-man Jesus.

Please share your thoughts in the comments about Leti’s poems and the exhibition.

Image: Shadows of the Divine exhibition by Brian Fischbacher.

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