Madonna of the Bass Rock

Bass Rock Madonna

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.]

2 thoughts on “Madonna of the Bass Rock

  1. ..”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.’
    This is perfect: the picture shows just that direct yet gentle gaze.

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