Landscape of the Baptism of Jesus

Here in the centre is the River Jordan,
boundary between past and future,
war and peace:
deep enough

and there, in the same picture,
the Dead Sea,
white like a sepulchre

If you look closely you can make out
a path going down
from Jerusalem to Jericho

and a Samaritan
off to one side

There are churches in Bethany,
old and new, like caves
for resurrection

Through the mists of time
the walls of a monastery
and St John, gazing upwards

seeing something
outside the landscape
away from the dusty Judean desert

away from Bethlehem,
away from the blinding light
away from the voice

that bursts out of the picture
and at the same time into it

The dove is hard to see
but the baptism remains,
undeceiving the eye

[This poem was written after a visit to the Salvador Dali Foundation at Figueres and a church next door to it, where I was struck by a large picture with the same title as the poem. It was a bleached-out  landscape, at the same time real and surreal, past and present.]