The Temple That Solomon Built

The bark knotted and hugged itself in the olive grove,
stout branches were axed and carted to the site.

The temple dwarfed every structure in vicinity,
workers teemed like ants through day and night;

tents to house workers like mushrooms sprung,
officers maintained files of schedule for work;

masons, craftsmen believed a halo followed them, 
that they had to hold in place with humility.

The sculptor held the chisel, felt for contours
on the rough surface, ran his fingers on the wood,

and marked the face of cherubim that lay within.
What no one has seen it was for him to give shape:

how much to slant the eyes, arch the back, stretch
the wings from wall to wall, carve feathers row after row

from memory of birds from his home in Phoenicia
where cormorants pondered over the Mediterranean sea.

Ekphrastic poem : ‘Ekphrasis’ is a writing that comments upon another art form, ekphrastic poetry is a poem inspired by visual art. It is the description of a real or imagined work of visual art. My poem is closer to the latter description.

Solomon took seven years to build the temple to house the Lord. In the inner sanctuary of the temple, he had two cherubims carved out of olive wood. The Old Testament describes so vividly Solomon’s labour of love that the temple structure, the carvings and the gold gilded walls form a visual in our minds. My poem is inspired by this visual.

Day 17 NaPoWriMo – write an ekphrastic poem

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