Still it stands here, like a sign

in the half-light, leaning against the edge of history

on the bare, polished stone skull of a homeland.

High up the old openings: tiny gateways for the day

portholes worn and splintered by the light forcing its way in

for eight hundred years.

Here is the world´s secret central pillar.

Here God´s crofters gathered.

Here they warmed themselves by a little fi re of faith

whilst the frost tore at sinews and walls: a frosted kyrie

cautiously breathed out beneath crossbeams and rafters

in a temporary heaven.

Here life and death met: two sides of a thin door panel

worn by hands tracing over the mystery.

Life hidden in the lifeless body on the crucifix.

Death, hourglass-shaped, present in the font´s pedestal.

Someone came here, shouldering a man´s load

of visions, spread them out over walls and pillars, gaping beasts

angels´ wings, dragons out under the knife the hand the brush:

tendrils of ochre, red, grey, white, a sinuous short way

from paradise to damnation

Jesus fathomless eyes and the demon´s nostrils.

After three hundred thousand mornings yet another morning

on its way through the universe.

In a cool walkway, on a pillar, under the brim of the roof

dawns the face of an unknown animal.

It has come here from the dreams

of one of your forefathers.


Paal-Helge Haugen