Christ In The Desert

-after Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi

You painted him as you had painted others,
the peasants of your time; or how you rounded shadows
into the soft hollows of Dostoyevsky’s eyes.
No one quite put feeling in a face like you.
The matter-of-fact contentment of age. An old trauma
in a tilted mouth. Erudite cunning. A voiceless itinerant,
washed-out, lank, empty as a brown nutshell.

Or this Christ, with his debtors’ prison face.
The skin around his eyes puffed with sleeplessness
and the eyes themselves resentful.
He clasps his hands, though too tight for prayer.
Ladders of dust stain the shoulders of his long, frayed cloak.
His thin wrists ride out from under a fainter cloth
and his uneven beard frames the line of his thin jaw.

Behind him, in a twilight valley nestling downhill,
you’ll see small buildings cluttering a square of canvas;
each point of whiteness like a shine of window-light.
Above them the skies open. A pinkish morning runs
in coloured bands through the layers of the air
and a streak of cloud admits a shade of dark grey-blue.

The sun cuts beneath his robe; probing dirty worker’s feet:
another encouragement, that he ignores. And in the city
the city-folk wake to their simple pain or their simple joy.
Only a Russian could paint Christ this way.
A line of lilac centres the scene. People are struggling
and laughing down below.


Photography © Allison Goldin

Photography © Allison Goldin


B.T. Joy is a free verse poet whose work has appeared in journals, magazines, e-zines and podcasts worldwide. He has also practiced as a haiga artist and has had work featured with World Haiku Association, Haiga Online and Daily Haiga. He currently works as a high school English teacher.

Allison Goldin is an artist living in California. Her work is a collection of spontaneous drawings from the imagination. The most common link throughout her art are the semi-recognizable creatures scattered amongst and bringing together the surrounding doodles.