Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage
I bear this weight with dignity,
For meaning is in symmetry –
Or so it seemed that way, when I
Could easily command plasticity.
I chiselled him – the crucified –
As handsome then: a slumbering lord,
And Mary still resplendent in
Her prime, and poised, and aureoled
In draperies. But now he droops
As heavy as a corpse will be,
And she, wrapped up against the cold,
Just clutches at this clod, her son.
I had to come in person and
Join in this undertaking, but
I’m growing old, and now don’t know
Where beauty is. And that’s the truth.
Between the bone and marrow
Penetrates the arrow
Of your Word. And so
Salvific poison spreads.
Once it takes hold
All worldliness contracts
To lodge that head
Below my heart.
There is no antidote,
For – sweet Mercury –
The chemistry must kill
What kills, then save outright.
This unevaded shaft
Invades me. I must yield.
For once it has arrived,
It lives and thrives.
I curse the day on which my so-called friend,
Persuaded by my sisters, chose to come
And bellow at me in my cosy den
Where I had slept for days all neatly wrapped
In perfumed swaddling-bands. For up ‘til then
My aches and wants and cares were left outside
My fortress sealed against the world and time.
But now I am re-born with my old bones.
Conclusion to my life has all been robbed:
I must endure the painful swell again.
Though I am made a sign I now repent
The impulse of my blood which leapt too quick,
For peace by any should not be disturbed
When it by natural means has been conferred.
When brute creation first brought me to birth,
I felt no obligation. Flesh and all
I made of it was mine. But now each breath
Compounds my debt to an impatient god.
Within this cave I heard “That Thing”
Disclosing how our prayers
Could kindle light, transfiguring
Those crippled by their cares.
And thus re-made, a sluggish flow
Could spring to healing spate.
Old bones could pave the way to show
Changed flesh, immaculate.
Illumined by the moon, the night
Revealed to preternatural sight
An azure cincture round the earth
As clay, by grace, brought Hope to birth.
A cherub pressed me to my knees:
He held a flaming spear.
He struck again, and then again:
As much as I could bear.
I soon abandoned all desire
For this sweet pain to cease.
No other bliss compares to this
I greet this torment willingly.
I fondly hug the wound.
Love’s quarry, breathless, flees no more,
For she is run to ground.
Incandescent lamp-posts glow
Brightly through the shower of snow.
The tombstones, wet,
Reflect a flash
Of fake resuscitation.
The pale scene vaunts
Unstained by obscene flesh.
How perfect and pristine! –
Unspoilt by bestial notions
Of God dropped in the hay,
And livestock’s smoky breath
Set to thaw Death.
Sam found a little knife
While wand’ring in the ward.
When nurses tried to truss
The old man to a chair,
He cut their knotted tape
And made good his escape.
But is he strong enough
To grab with steady hand
The starched lapel of Life-
In-Death’s white coat and crash
That cranium’s empty dome?
That way, he might get home.
To me it seemed a comforting idea,
Too welcome, too sublime to be untrue
That love and meaning could thus rendez-vous:
Be gazed upon, and touched.
But doubts persist that I imagined Him.
When He did not appear I then assumed
A love that God in fact was loath to show
Unto The Crucified.
Yet can there be conclusion to my grief
If I can never cling to one who walks
Within the graveyard of my dreams, with voice
Unsilenced by his pain?
And does my vision promise me too much?
Does Christ Himself recoil from ill-placed trust,
Compelled to say, “Noli me tangere” –
That flesh can never tarry.
O Christ, thy crown is broke in two pieces:
Give half to me, O give half to me.
O Christ thy cloak is riven in pieces:
Give some to me, O give some to me.
And I will mould a smaller crown,
And patch a cloak for me.
And I shall go down, down,
Down unto the sea.
And the sea shall part for me.
My heart goes down to Hell with him,
Though I must shut my eyes
To what he sees. I fear the dark,
But trail with quiet tread
Lest he looks back,
And weakening, lets me cling to him.
For he has work to do within
That senseless void, and I
Must be a hovering thing and hope
That he will see the light
Again, and say
That unmade, made again, is good.