Jerome in the Wilderness

In a God’s-eye
view all the edges
are sharp

Tiny but distinct
picnics on a ledge
with his apocryphal lion
sunlight falling
on him in particular

does he wonder
if God might prefer him
unwashed in stained
starving rags

as he has recommended
to the Roman matrons
some now (presumably)
in heaven but no

he’s wearing rose silk
he’s brought along his tall crucifix,
a skull, the egg-shaped
stones he likes

the elegant apparatus
of his project

his hat’s a red bright
circle on the grass

behind him
from a stony spindle
green hills
tumble to the horizon

there is
so much to see

the light
that burnishes
the sawtooth
edge of every leaf

small castles
punctuating the wilderness

and in a corner
awkward camels
crossing a narrow bridge

the lion

kneeling half out
of his robe
holds up a stone

he’s ready to hit himself and
to go on hitting


until God pays

published in Cleaver