Guest Submission: The tree and The Vail: Or Of Exile and Atonement

Poetry by John C Evans

Part I: Exile at Noon

In a little glade at noontime, at the comingling of bark and dew,

I kneel beneath the shadow of a mighty oak,

Neither old nor wholly young,

But ever glistening and loftier than the seeders and pines that line that quiet place,

And spreading forth my arms between heaven and earth,

I kneel and seek your face among the hemlock umbels,

Among the roots and vaulting dome of branches clothed with your untwining light.

But you are not in the dampness of the fallen leaves,

Who’s sent is a wealth of dreams to my aching heart,

Nor are you in the rustling of the East Wind heralding the splintering of the dark.

For yours is the mind which crafted all these,

Though in them some semblance of your face is keenly seen.

No, instead I find you in the faint echo of a solitary bell,

Chiming across the river and the village-square where the marketers scramble, bumble, and greet,

The echo ever so evanescent of a Cathedral’s voice,

Summoning every crushed twig and failing rose to arise and hear,

The pulse of eternity in an hour, the memory of the mart II

Oblations

And all the while, my knees kiss the well scarred earth,

Remembering the dust, the long night, the icon written in my soul,

 Concerning those things present, and which were, and which are to be,

Preserving the flower of Eden in my fragile days,

And the price of Golgotha’s tree, piercing grief with joy to the very marrow,

Discerning time from time’s author, the twinkling of an eye through which the son in exile beholds his Father’s throne,

Awaiting the point of consummation and the fulfillment of the age.

In the stillness of my spirit I cry, Abba,

In imitation of your oblation in that garden of tears,

Embracing the work that is to be done and that is being accomplished through   my outpouring,

As I unite my desires with the desires you possessed,

Six hours in eternity, upon the cross for me.

These oblations of mine are nothing without this,

Sharing in Your passion, your glory, your triumphant pain,

So that I make of the wood I clutch and the boughs of this oak a window,

Into your outstretched arms moist with the sap of your life-giving blood,

Into your carrying of Adam’s stain upon your stainless back,

Into the diadem of thorns which your purest brow bore for me,

Into the mystery of your divine agony.

Part III

An Icon among the leaves

Here, at the third hour of my life,

Life’s author   parts with life for me,

So that death is trampled down under pierced heels,

So that the veil of separation is torn for those who cling to the Lord and His tree,

To the gardener who makes grow the barren with the libation of His years,

Though He is every moment’s planter and every story’s seed.

Here at the moment in which tea and pastries are served,

At which business rattles out her mundane decrees,

Forever, creeps in with the words, “It is accomplished,”

And God bleeds for love of loveless thieves.

There is no thought of mine of which you are unaware,

Nor is there a concern of mine for which you do not already pose an answer.

This is why you said to the twelve at the unveiling of Your Word,

That every hair of our heads is numbered already,

And not one sparrow falls beyond your will.

Part IV

Memory

For though we are but clay and yet so much more,

Only you are the true vine and we your tributaries,

Only your infinite mind could have called from the abyss these signs and signets so intricate as to appear customary,

So beautiful even after the ruin of our disobedience, the tragedy that is love of self to contempt of you,

When love of you means rest for our restless self,

When abiding in your wounds means healing for our waywardness,

When you paid for all   shedding blood and water to the bitter end,

At the point of a lance, at the hands of your children who were blinded to you in their enmity.

And with You I descend into the depths of my ingratitude,

And count with countless strides my   stumbling from you, the living Way,

And would dissolve into the ashes and moss that clings to the Oak under which I dream,

If I had not known your pardon, your patience, you’re long suffering.

And in the chiming of that Cathedral voice,

In the echo of that bell that summons me to think on you,

I hear as though it were an inward impulse softly say,

“Look and be not cowardly.”

And there, I see or believe I do,

Under the canopy of   this fogbound and hollowed grove,

A woman dressed in blue with hazel eyes,

And in her palms a string of emerald beads.

And without a word, she breathes in me this song,

And clasps me with her maternal smile,

Until shame has no longer any room in me,

And my soul is as a mansion of crystalline fire, a tabernacle of peace.

Liked it? Take a second to support Anthony Stine on Patreon!

Leave a Reply