Jesus is laid in the tomb
Sr. Ann Catherine Swailes o.p
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?