Other Songs, Poetry

Jesus said, “Do you see these stones? Very truly I tell you,
not one will be left upon the other, all will be thrown down,”
and then kept walking on. The disciples sighed. “Not one, Lord?
Not the mosaic which has you pegged as pelican, giving suck to
young with blood pecked from and plated on your chest? Not that
slab whose linens have been smoothed by hands of careful priests
to kiss like precious bedsheets? Not curls carved out from alabaster
bearing likeness of wool shoulders pressed by frightened members of
the fold into your calf? (Surely you remember them, and accounted
each to be renumbered here.) Not the dense earth quarried; hewn
in sweat, hard blows, and the tithings of a thousand silver plates
of grand intention passed from hand to hand while waiting to
receive you at your supper? Not glass bubbled from the heated
sea to dribble on the shore; gathered there, and shaped, raised
to strike your gesture in midair: the one you made nearly twirling
from the grave, save projectile angels scurrying for cover? Not stalls
and pews and arches carved from wood acquainted with the tree-tip
touch of dawn broken in by birdsong, now known as rote and chanted
verse, “the dawn from on high shall break upon us,” sung so often we
forgot it was a thing upon a time to sit beside you in chill forests, dark
for daybreak, by the river, waiting? Not pipes forged, like those larks
had been, to repeat a riff of notes when called? Not a tomb to cull and
air reverberating threads of flesh strung from painful, saddened bows
to cry to you: magnified by hollows, pressing lines to lonely ears; not
a low lain basin holding close the voice and veins collecting for the cup
you left behind? No, not one?” But by that point he was gone. He had
vanished in the crowd, somewhere past the queue for pastries at the
corner. Later, they would find him, as they always did, behind doors
at the day’s end, those opened when alone; and each would join him
on their own, shutting eyes inside the steady prayer he made, “your
kingdom come, your will be done… your kingdom come, your will be
done.” Rain in an electric box, the volume on a murmur. They dreamt
then of a world on fire; they imagined ruins. Yet morning came as it
ever had before: friends pinched at pain au chocolat from crinkled
bags and walked their dogs, and a woman on the corner asked for
bus fare. The paved earth, too far beneath the tips of buildings to
have seen the dawn arrive, did not take up the song of those
who woke to find death waiting.

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