Our Lady of the Pirates

I saw the Oleander and the Tamarisk tree beside the shore.

You took me there at night,
Where the shutters of the old stone houses
Creaked with age beneath the yellowing moon.

Our Lady of the Pirates –
What a tale you told of the old church
At the far point of the bay
As we came to the stone well.

The pirates, many years ago,
Had stolen a painting of the Mother of God.

Their ship had sunk
And all that was drawn up from the wrecked boat
Was this image.

When the fishermen carried it here and placed it on the ground
A spring burst forth
And here the well was build and now the church.

The image in the candle-lit interior
Is enhanced by many prayers in polyphonic voices
Richly sung by fishermen
And women dressed in black.

I wonder that the pirates had the nerve.
How little they must then have known
Of how the universe was woven,

As another fisherman’s poet wisely said
“Of a thread too bright for the eye”.

Take now into your hands this simple cloth,
Your life,
The one you weave
Of hempen homespun or of gold

And as we sit and spin our tale,
Feel tenderly the texture of this cloth
Beneath your hand.

And seek within its warp and weft
The thread too bright for the eye
Divinely planned.

For as the last door opens and you leave this world of time,
This cloth will be the robe you wear
As the last bell chimes.

Sarah de Nordwall July 15th 2006

One Comment

  1. When the sacred comes home, the well springs forth.

    Our Lady of the Pirates is a beautiful stone-built church on the island of Vis in Croatia; the westernmost island of the Dalmatian archepelago.

    With thanks to Feta, who showed me the way and told me the tale.

    The Fishermans' poet mentioned is Orkney writer George Mackay Brown. An insightful and meditative biography of his life can be found here.

Comments are closed.