Orison

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1
Is life such a matter of action that it eventually succumbs not to anyone’s will but God’s alone? Your truth walks with a deathly pallor—Flesh of our flesh, O son of man—

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Even the rocks by the roadside quiver in uncanny life, humming as you pass by. Sandal prints you left, untouched by the fiery breezes of History, shall be worshipped centuries hence with ardent devotion, with violent fervor, with misplaced zeal. How do you measure the boundaries of your kingdom with only the wave of a hand, nail marks drilled through its pulsing palm? Dust motes suspend around you —or are those fallen stars grown cold, from which sprang the inheritance of your humanity? Terrible love walks on the splendid scent of Asiatic balms—Flesh of our flesh, O lover of souls—

Visions of a new sunset appear before a horizon stretching ad infinitum, the ringing of distant bells pierces the stilled, light air. You hold out your hand, laborer hand used to the feel of iron and wood, and hold there the pulsing heart, the heaving core of a dying, crucified world. Defiant hope walks in the brilliancies of a shifting sun—Flesh of our flesh, O eternity bound—

2
I am all fragments now, like stars fading at the break of day, the siege throbbing in my head. A persistent migraine. The battles are awry, lost, even as they begin; now I implore you, at first in complaint, wondering if you could really hear, if you are really found in this space bound by linen flaps, your priests garbed in jewels and bells reeking of burnt flesh and human ineptitude. They say you lived in temples; they say you dealt only in covenants; they say you could destroy an invading army with only a song—or by breaking clay jars. Then, they say you were torn to shreds by mere love. Then, you must have known all along, this suffering!

Every orifice and recess has been conquered, every proud banner fallen. Before I am led to exile,
I kneel in supplication, the siege abating at the gates—I remember you in the bower as Eve remembers the suppleness of Adam, I remember you by the well as the Samaritan woman remembers an enigmatic Man in whom no man can ever be man enough, I remember you in the violent embrace that breaks names and thighs, I remember you in the whisper in the cave, in the raven, in the flood, in my barrenness, in my decade-long bleeding. Now I kneel, though I cannot show you my unclean hands or lift my unwashed head, yet I kneel, I beg, make me whole, make me whole, gather my fragments and remember me, O God of burning flesh, God of the fool and the frail, I beseech you for one more song, one more breaking, one more fight.

3
As it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end, a voice from the deep saying, Let there be no more, and so it shall, there will be none, and it is good. We shall begin anew.

—Flesh of our flesh, O impregnable life—

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