arts / Christianity / Church / poetry / Religion

A poem for Pentecost

Wordless in Eden

Some quotes

“Before the court of his peers, Jesus answered the charges with the great declaration of the divine: I AM. His judges found him guilty of blasphemy, but what they condemned was his acknowledgement of the spirit within all of us, all of them, the being that precedes doing, the breath of God sucked in at the first great gulp of birth, our inspiration, first systole of a lifetime of heartbeats.”

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
I Corinthians 3:16

And it is written also of the disciples at Pentecost that
“they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Acts 2:4

“I, too, have been impregnated with the Holy Spirit,
I, too, have spoken in tongues when I was taken to a place of ecstasy
far beyond any place where human understanding made any kind of sense.”

I don’t think anyone could tell him what to do, only the spirit of the woods.
I could feel it, walking hand in hand,  like a third presence beside me.
I tried to talk to him about it once, but he brushed me off, said it was women’s nonsense.
But I think he felt it was too sacred to be talked about.
He said we talked too much, thought too much, us up here at the house.
Think wi’ yer blood, he said, that don’t need words, and I think he was right.
– From a sequel to Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“To dance away, sometimes to link hands with others, sometimes to step into the arms of eternity, always forward and back, the do-si-do of the one flesh, one spirit.”

“The Spirit is a wilful wind, blowing where it wishes.
None may mark its beginnings and endings, nor when its work is begun, or done.”

All the above quotations from a forthcoming collection, Eros Unbound

Let me explain how it was, before there was a ‘was’ behind the ‘is’ and ‘will be’ of time.

(The Serpent speaking.)

There was no before or after until, later, what happened made us aware of where we’d been and what we’d lost, where we are now and where we’d wish to be going.

 I must speak in too many words of a timeless time when words had no meaning.

Forgive me for a discourse that will lead you like a riverrun back through where you’ve been, back to the eternal now of your beginning.

Only in words can I perhaps take you back to a place where there are no words, is nothing but the eternal act, a big bang clanging silently, its echo saying your unspoken name:

the One made flesh from the red unfed ground.

Well now.

I was king in Eden, then, before there was a then.

Or queen, if you like; it’s all one, or none, in truth, since male and female had he not yet created he them:
that came later.

There was no name for who or what I was, nor even where I was.

Paradise is what we call what we have lost.

Those lying Scribes had not yet put their words into my mouth.

My tongue was only for tasting of the air.

How could it speak those sounds that had not yet meaning?

My jawbone had not then the shape of speech, and I had not even thought enough to deny I could ever learn to speak.

Wordless, mindless, I ruled, a gentle anarchy, raising my head at impulse, senseless, without season or reason.

Innocent of innocence, for without names to name there can be no guilt to be free of.

What’s prohibited, what’s permitted,
what’s compulsory:
a unity.

Those at one need no atonement.

I say they lied, yet how could they not:
all words are falsehoods, half-truths at best, half-empty glasses drained of the red wine of reality.

The time they wrote of hadn’t happened yet.

You didn’t even know who you were, still less anyone or anything else. 

You ate without thinking of what you ate as food, enjoying without disgust the flowers springing from the evacuation of your bowels.

You enjoyed each other without reservation:
the man’s rib entering again into the heart of the woman his helpmeet, not yet deciding whether that  defined a servant, or the spirit to guide you through your lives.

Wisdom is not ruled by facts, 
nor yet the spider tracks in your dictionaries.

You were not ignorant because there was nothing not to know.

How did it all change?

The Scribes blame me.

I, the purposeless player rising between you, my only message the opening of a flower, the green shoot birthing through the brown earth.

Your climactic cries’ only meaning the colour of sunrise, the smell of damp mulch after rain.

I told you nothing your flesh did not already know, as it moved between night and day without bothering which was which.

Could it be I, the legless worm shedding the skins of forgotten yesterdays, who spoiled it?

I was coiled around the tree of the future, whose fruit sprang up like arrow-heads between you.

But I knew no time.


em>It was not I separated day from night, darkness from light, wrong from right.

I cried in agony:
For God’s sake stop all this thinking!

Later, it is written, you called upon the name of the Lord, but you were ending a time when his presence filled the gardens of your pleasure, not needing to know who it was walked beside you.

Later, you failed to understand why you were forbidden to name him, since that prohibition could not be understood with words.

You found a name for your nakedness and were ashamed.

Asked why, you pointed the finger at me, and I shared your curse.

I fled before you when the flaming sword divided your future from your past, knowing now my destiny:
to be raised up in the wilderness, and coil around that other tree of deliverance, my swallowed tail making one the circled heaven and earth of eternity, when at length you and all your kindred would at long last cease plaguing yourself with notions of who you are and who you should be, becoming the greater glory

that you could be.

November 15-18, 2003


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