Walking along this anonymous, clinical corridor,
I don’t quite know what it is I am looking for,
except that I would be glad to see a little light,
a sign that something glimmers when this road has been so hard.
And then I see two familiar things:
A madonna and child,
and that dark, bird-frosted rock,
that almost-island with its history
of prisoners and hermits,
of castles and prisons,
a dark place, and yet a place of some kind of light.
That century-old lighthouse could offer some kind of glimmer to my dark place,
but it is not this light of warning and concern that fixes me in its beam,
but a different light.
It is the light of that child’s gaze.
He fixes me in his steady, contemplative look
and bids me stand awhile and look back.
I look and I recognise.
I look and I hear;
‘I am here. I am life. I am.’
[John Bellany’s Madonna of the Bass Rock of 1997 is on display in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, courtesy of Art in Healthcare. I thank them for placing this image in my way when things were hard.]