The Empress of Nazareth

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by John Evans

Through shafts of living beams of gold and Autumnal fire,

I climb the summit of that place to look on the throne of atonement,

Where long the withering of the leaves has ebbed away to solid stone, freed of moss,

To heights of well-watered earth whose roots in the memory of kings runs deep,

To a pinnacle of jutting quarts hallowed with gushing springs and figures carved in likeness of bird and beast,

To steps ten thousand times   ten thousand before the dais, before the chair of dreams.

And there the lilies piled high at the great seat’s footstool fall,

In myriads like snowflakes on some   New Year’s morn,

To cling to the dress of the woman arrayed in blue who waits for me,

The empress of Nazareth, in whose arms the God-child sweetly sleeps,

With wake-filled eyes of piercing mercy, through whom the week of creation finds festal rest,

Transfiguring the tatters of my storm-tossed coat with the felt-echo of a love unimaginable,

Until every thread of my vesture sings with inner-radiance, cleaving whole the mark of time,

Until I stand before eternity’s infant-smile and on His mother’s benevolence, at once knowing and secure.

For peace that makes all passing wonders blush has come to dwell,

Here at the Third Hour of this Eucharistic day,

Rendering the string of beads curled about my outstretched palms,

A Jacob’s ladder whose rungs culminate in this maiden- queen’s embrace,

In the presence of the King before all Kings whose Name reverberates throughout the heart of galaxies,

Laid in rough swaddlingclothes as He was in Manger at Bethlehem,

When first the earth heard the cry of her author enthroned in mortal flesh divine,

When even the angels from their celestial perches descended low to proclaim,

The jubilee that should never close,

The first-fruits of victory,

All painted in the icon of Madonna and son,

Dispelling the very latest traces of night’s last gleaming.

Love has conquered death with a ransomed love,

With thirty-three years begun in the twinkling of an eye,

With the fiat of an immaculate kiss, from Mother to infant-son,

On the damp-straw floor of a stable prepared for the nativity of God,

While in Rome the failing Augustus sank in inebriated sleep bowed down by a fleeting empire’s reckoning.

The world may keep on to her consummation,

As a carriage which teeters on cobbled lanes until a close,

And fools may relapse into pouring libations to their painted dead,

And to idols more crewel than those of hellish Nimrod,

But even though we stand at twilight’s door,

And greet the martyr’s pyre sooner than we perceived,

Though the Last Beast should stir in our time from the bottomless-hearse,

And the stars in their dreamy courses learn to fall in sudden rain from their inky homes,

I shall cling to her, through whom the light of ages rose,

And under her stainless mantel inscribe the letter of my reverence,

And with her, the mother of the living, I shall observe the reconstitution of the storied earth,

As Eden renewed, as Jerusalem in perpetual spring.

I see the river which makes glad the city of God,

Her tributaries as      constellations against the ravening gloom,

Where there is no more day and no more night,

For the wounds of the Lamb are as lamps to our wind-tossed eyes,

And the radiance of His mercy keener than a two-edged sword,

Dividing love from lesser love’s entangling,

Until we are whole as we ought to be,

Face to face with triune majesty,

One God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

One Beatific vision, greatly to be known.

© 2019, Anthony Stine. All rights reserved. You may reuse or copy this post by giving credit and providing a link.

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