Northwords Now Issue 34

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Castlebay

by Helen Boden

In the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea,
two pictorial windows: fishing scene, South;
North, angelic hosts instrumental -
iconography customised; and conventional.

This doesn’t overwhelm with style and scale -
what’s gained here through stained glass
is a clarity that knowledge of theology
or the history of art can start to obscure.

I’m less moved than expected by
craftsmanship depicting local custom,
more affected by how these angels,
undistinguished of their kind,

make lucid an over-familiar aesthetic,
one that made me crave vernacular
bespoke for the island culture
I’d been more minded to embrace.