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The Davaar Island Christ Copyright Â© James Knox Whittet 2010
In 1887, a Kintyre artist was compelled by a dream to paint Christ on the Cross in a cave of this tidal island which has become a remote place of pilgrimage.
In the seventh cave to the right,
along the sculpted boulders on the shore,
we find a pallid Christ on the Cross,
his thin arms stretched across
the shelved side wall, His thorned head
leaning to the left in His painted agony.
Beneath His nailed feet, lie tiny
cairns of whipped cream pebbles
left by pilgrims; a child's pink necklace;
crooked crosses made from salt-sieved
driftwood; a teddy bear with rigid
ears, left to listen alone to the thunder
of the waves through hollowed spaces of night.
One cross bears the carved name
of a loved one: For our Gran.
On one broken piece of wood is
penned: From the Ayrshire hospice:
where dying is a way of life. On another
cross, bound with string: For all who
come her. We stand for a moment out
of the October wind which angles the veined
gold of bracken fronds above the shore.
As we turn to leave, I shine my plastic
torch on His sad downward gaze
for a final time, as if in search of a sign
of some deeper illumination, knowing
that we shall never return to this cave,
but His dark eyes return only my
own weak light. We hear the insistent echoes
of the sea that speaks in differing tongues,
interjected by a metallic clang
from the Nato base in Campbelltown.
We trudge back along the natural causeway,
disturbing once more the oystercatchers
who dine formally together in starched
white shirt fronts among discarded shells.
When we reach our car, I turn
the radio on and we sit and watch
through the misting screen, the tide's return
slowly drowning the path we once followed.