Mary MacRae’s second collection
published Aug 10 by Second Light Publications. See order form (pdf file) for discount offers
Need help with travel to Second Light events? See Second Light Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Fund
Round 9, Month 8: Our judge this month is Joy Howard. She has selected Shirley Bell’s poem The Scarecrow Christ as her winner and her selection of commended poems are by Dorothy Baird, Rose Flint, Merryn Williams and Lynne Wycherley.
The fields are flat and brown, it’s hard to think
they’ll ever stand high with corn, flare with rape
again this summer. For now the scarecrows lurch
at crazy angles. They trail old coats and rags.
Polythene bags flap around the suggestions of
their shoulders. And yet the wind lifts
their shoddy clothes and they are touched with
magic; they always seem about to fly.
It’s Sunday and I’ve taken you to Chapel.
Everything is grey and earnest. There’s no
incense here, though a sense of well-meaning
sifts gently through the air. I don’t think I belong.
It’s Lent and the sermon is all about temptation.
I feel I would not pass those tests. Now I see
distraction in the corner of my eyes; a painting.
When I can, I take a picture on my phone.
It shows me strips of cloth, snarled around
an empty cross, a tenuous fabric
lifting in air currents, tangled with light.
Something. Nothing. Faith, elusive as a sigh.
A scarecrow pinned to a stick.
Leaning forwards, with the wind stirring its tatters.
And always on the point of alteration,
by some sudden unexpected angle of the sun.
Poem published in behind the glass , 2013
There is a feeling of unease in the chapel setting of the poem. The scarecrow, her chosen metaphor for the rags of faith that remain, presents as a shabby crucifixion. But a trick of the wind, a shaft of sunlight are suggestive of “Something. Nothing. Faith, elusive as a sigh”. Firmly grounded in a sense of place, this subtle poem transports us to the realms of the metaphysical.