Song of Saint Francis

Song of Saint Francis

In the morning, sudden to this sleeper, I woke to revelation,
Apocalypse came to me, I was singled out, singed,
lightshafts cracked this unshaped stone, my bounded soul,
and I couldn’t grasp it, I didn’t know how to speak at first
but I saw a cross.

In the sky it stood against bloodred clouds
mobilizing to obscure it, blot it out.
I saw a cross but it wasn’t a key,
or the shepherd’s embrace,
or an initiate symbol of suffering,
an ancient cipher somehow reborn.

Art by Cristina Miranda de Almeida

Art by Cristina Miranda de Almeida

It was a hand pressed against time itself,
against cloud and sky, their furious resistance,
a hand outstretched, and in its nakedness
I saw the word
Mercy

Mercy – to stop cruelty
Mercy – to prepare our hearts
Mercy – to grieve us into gentleness
Mercy – to those whose minds are mean and clouded

And I knelt under the arrival.
Burning above me, set high, the lighthouse hand
showed a celestial scroll

Keep sweet rage and boldness
to oppose murderous oaths and the awful numbness
of brute machinations.
The open hand somehow said,

Stop death,
Be ready instead
to hold, caress.

Then I was released from history,
the prison of today, all nature loosened,
light poured, and I was drunk with mystery,
became listening part of the cosmos,
my heart charged, living with the unity
of a newborn mind.

Roses erupted in prayer, beseeching the air.
An infinity of blue sky, abruptly cloudless.
Ageless children darted and laughed
from behind bushes and shrubs.
Trees, furrowed like old faces, looked
to the stars made visible in morning light.
Deep in the forest wolves howled for the lost,
who began to track back, scenting home.
Birds leapt from branches like slaves
unexpectedly freed, disclosing
their songs’ secrets
in a new reign of gifts.
All melody and harmony clear to me.

Because the open hand means eternal exposure

Because the self’s joy means loss of the self

Because the light and the dark have joined

Because the passwords of the cosmos are sympathy
and justice

I want to live
skinned on the path that keeps radiating
so I may keep falling,

I want to live so nothing hides
and I’ll see the soullight always glimmer
near the surface of all flesh,

I want to stay raw
in the mad alleys
of the new Rome.

“The Unsaid Passing” BW Powe (Guernica) 2005

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