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Jesus is laid in the tomb

Sr. Ann Catherine Swailes o.p

Now in the place where He was crucified, there was a garden

The signs of contradiction everywhere.

Seed pods in high boughs roost, as last year’s leaves

Rattle their small deaths, and berries cling

Withered to blunted thorns, like jellied pearls

Of blood, flung by the ebb of life.


Embroidered branches sweep with taunting grace

An invitation to the dance; the rite and riot of a callous spring.

I stumble to the stone, and try to feel,

Shiver, and strain for meaning, but I can’t. Words fail me,

Since the Word has failed; rushed tombwards with the corpse

He’s fastened to, the chalice drained, and dried.

I want and dread what lies beyond the seal

The empty, and impermeable cold in there

A sterile, starless nightfall, not the slumbering womb,

The only promised softness, ooze and rot.

And yet – what if I could hoist back the rock and see

His form, curved, lovely in the earth’s embrace,

As loosed among the dead he goes, a light that sings

Of conquering flesh; coordinates the choirs

Of roaring angels, terrorising hell;

Uproots me from the stinging, choking clay

Of shame, and plants me in his own heart’s tender soil.

What if I saw, as he sees, the sun’s rise

Refracted in the crystal drops that bead

The hedges after sudden shower with sheen

And sweetness? What if I could sense

The delicate new wine poured for the feast

He bids me to, the chalice brimmed, and bright?