Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lenten Lands

Dear Conversely and T. Azimuth,

I know that I once said that I don't write poetry, and I don't anymore, but this is very old, and never shared publicly before.

I have given up the United States for lent, at least so far. And here in this far away land of Budapest, Hungary, I am thinking of lent and giving up and being far from home.

Lenten Prayer

Alpha, Omega, Ancient of days dawned ashen,
This we bring to you.
The starting of it, later, the ending of it,
And between. . . dark, dank.

Lent, not holy, but desperate and full of stiff
Desperate measures,
One paralysis leading on to another.
No sleep, nor eating,
Choking on the idea of food or warmth or rest,
We sink under the weight.

It was Lent when Judas tossed his coins, felt the weight,
And hanged himself.
Those cords slipped so easily round the guilty neck,
The paralyzed neck
Of one whose sin so beset him that hope, too, fled,
He, left with just rope.

And I also, before dear Alpha, stand proscribed.
“Anathema” sounds, loud.
Sin has so beset us.
Eaten us empty.
We'll feed it no more.

. . . No eating in Lent. We'll feed it no more.
Starve it.
Tear at its clothing.
Let it be naked in the cold, wholly exposed.
Shake it from sleeping.
Give it not a wink's rest in Lent to gather strength,
This sin filled body.

And before Omega come, not as a Judas,
God, not as Judas,
Though our betrayal is as complete and as real.
But tossing us down
At Lent's end, with Peter, lonely, clasping your feet,
Begging, forgive us still.



Conversely said...

Betsy--I've read this five or six times since you posted it and I can't figure out the right language for a good response, so bear with the awkwardness and Keats robbery of the following sentence: This poem feels like a strange combination of Truth and beauty punching me in the stomach.

I guess, though, that this is exactly what Lent make me feel like.

You should write more poems.

brd said...

Conversely, your words are too kind.