I remember you saying that if Jesus showed up
unexpectedly for an afternoon visit, you would
serve him whatever was on the counter––
chicken soup? apple pie? And you were sure
he wouldn’t complain if one of the younger cats
who hadn’t yet learned the social graces
climbed up the side of his white robe, maybe
catching some skin along the way.
Now it’s been years since you left to meet
the guest of your vision, who sipped his soup
and ate his pie, unbothered by the cat who
gained the table and began to share soup
and pie. Jesus rose to give over his seat
while he moved closer to you for coffee
and you to him to share your apple pie.
Jesus, would you say “Ephphatha!” to me
as you said to the man whose ears you opened
whose tongue you loosed so that freed from
impediment, he might speak plainly?
Would you say “Ephphatha!”to me?
And while you’re at it, how about the eyes?
They’ll serve you in any case, but if I could
see clearly and hear again, if I could reclaim
those lost senses, I would lay them down
in this body of mine in service to you complete.
I was on my way in the O.E.D. to ephphatha––
Jesus’ command that opened the ears of a deaf man––
when I came upon ephemeromorph, a general name
for the forms of biological life, which are not
definitely either animal or vegetable.
What a find in this age of transgendered people
finding themselves, and who, like the word
ephemeromorph listed as “rare,” have hung behind
a curtain of invisibility for generations, accused
by the O.E.D. itself and by others of being
a manifestation of the lowest forms of life.
In our time the curtain is being rent, and these
ephemeromorphs find themselves
exposed, not as the lowest of the low,
but as something less rare than was previously thought
that defies classification, and so, control, and quite
beautiful really in their own unclassified way.
Let the book fall open where it will.
There, your direction for the day.
Deaths listed on the left.
On the right, the title page:
The New Testament
begins here today as
The Renewed Testament.
From this day forward
what you write will be
for better, for worse
for richer, for poorer
in sickness and in health
my life being lived as a woman’s
life is lived on the planet now.
A divine informant came to Merton
when he was still a young man
with the promise, I will give you what
you desire; I will lead you into solitude.
Everything that touches you
shall burn you, and you will draw
your hand away in pain until
you have withdrawn yourself
from all things. Then you will be all
alone … that you may become
the brother of God and learn to know
the Christ of the burnt men.
Mary, look at the camera.
Joseph? Move in a bit closer.
There. Both of you, smile.
And now, click.
That’s it. We’ve got it.
The family photo
this first night of his life
This is big news.
It will be all over the Internet
by morning. If he is who
he’s cracked up to be
this is the story of the century.
I’ll get back to you
with a hard copy.
I’m sure you’ll want to
remember this night forever.
To Paraphrase …
“The movement of the universe is toward symmetry
according to Archibald MacLeish,
and that according to his physicist friend––
very young, and very brilliant––
who offers mathematical reasons
MacLeish does not understand.”
From a conversation with Archibald MacLeish and Bill Moyers, March 7, 1976
What he did understand was love.
While there is nothing in symmetry to which one would turn
with a broken heart
(“You don’t weep on the bosom of symmetry,” he said.)
the real vocabulary, it seems to me, in which one
can catch the nature … of the spirit, the entity
that has to do with our lives and their meaning,
that perhaps knows the meaning of our lives,
is very much closer to ourselves through the channel,
the medium of love.
And to me the fundamental truth of Jesus
is that he does move love into the center
of human experience. Love is the answer
to the mystery of the Universe––a bit more childish
than I want to be and yet, there is something there.
There is something there.