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.
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.
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.
The pains of childbirth, then of dispossession,
A leaping heart, then steady retrogression
Was all angelic flutters came to bring.
Fair salutations bore a farewell sting.
And Death’s dark angel did not pass my door,
But slammed the board, demanding more and more.
My God, you owe this to me: let me see
Wherefore my child has now forsaken me.
I want to see him rise to tear the veil,
And borne by angels his kind Father hail,
As his bejewelled banner he unfurls,
His blood its rubies and my tears its pearls.
Mary, maid and mother – both –
(Fire, we’re told, does not consume
Her pure virginity).
You who tread on holy ground
Put on simplicity.
If He is to be born, God needs
All your complicity.
As swift as eye-of-reason’s blink
Consent, in waiting, parted lips.
As quick as pulse could leap to beat
Of wing, her cry let fly to air
Where word met Word. Thunder unrolled –
Salvation’s sentence in pursuit
Of spirit’s lightning dart to soul
Pre-hushed. Her heart, inviolate still,
Now known, knew all. So All the valley
Filled, and pure Love’s river swelled,
Then brimmed to shed its tide on time.
Our Lady’s body suffered not decay,
Exempt from the determined consequence
Of carnal lust and fell concupiscence,
The penalty which Adam’s kind all pay.
Do I then rave if I speak of a Day
When an archangel’s shout will call me thence,
Embodied soul, to get my recompense
For what I said, did, did not do, or say;
Or speculate that I will then be changed
Into a wholesome, holy entity
In which the atoms have been re-arranged
By my Redeemer, who I then shall see
In this my flesh? I am, perhaps, deranged
While hope defies impossibility.