Wednesday, April 28, 2010

a crucifixion and a mysterion


You understand the colors on the hillside have faded,
we have the gray and brown and lavender of late autumn,
the apple and pear trees have lost their leaves, the mist
of November is often with us, especially in the afternoon
and toward evening, as it was today when I sat gazing
up into the orchard for a long time the way I do now,
thinking of how I died last winter and was revived.
And I tell you I saw there a cross with a man nailed
to it, silvery in the mist, and I said to him: "Are you
the Christ?" And he must have heard me, for in his
agony, twisted as he was, he nodded his head affirmatively,
up and down, once and twice. And a little way off
I saw another cross with another man nailed to it,
twisting and nodding, and then another and another,
ranks and divisions of crosses straggling like exhausted
legions upward among the misty trees, each cross
with a silvery, writhing, twisting, nodding, naked
figure nailed to it, and some of them were women.
The hill was filled with crucifixion. Should I not be
telling you this? Is it excessive? But I know something
about death now, I know how silent it is, silent, even
when the pain is shrieking and screaming. And tonight
is very silent and very dark. When I looked I saw
nothing out there, only my own reflected head nodding
a little in the window glass. It was as if the Christ
had nodded to me, all those writhing silvery images
on the hillside, and after a while I nodded back to him.

Carruth, Hayden. "Crucifixion" The Best American Poetry 1990. Toronto: Collier Macmillan Canada, Inc., 1990.

Adventures in New Testament Greek: Mysterion

What our habit has attained for us appears
a somewhat meager view of mystery.
And Latinate equivalents have fared
no better tendering the palpable
proximity of dense noetic pressure.

More familiar, glib, and gnostic bullshit
aside, the loss the body suffers when
sacrament is pared into a tiny
picture postcard of absent circumstance
starves the matter to a moot result, no?

Mysterion is of a piece, enormous
enough to span the reach of what we see
and what we don't. The problem at the heart
of metaphor is how neatly it breaks down
to this and that. Imagine one that held

entirely across the play of image
and its likenesses. Mysterion is
never elsewhere, ever looms, indivisible
and here, and compasses a journey one
assumes as it is tendered on a spoon.

Receiving it, you apprehend how near
the Holy bides. You cannot know how far.

Cairns, Scott. "Adventures in New Testament Greek: Mysterion" New & Selected Poems. Lincoln, Nebraska: Zoo Press, 2002.