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extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Medieval Phenomenon Kills Priest
MEDIEVAL PHENOMENON KILLS PRIEST!
was how one rag reported it.
The papers had a feast.
My wedding day - not that you'd have noticed it, and might
have struggled with the concept anyway.
My union, my life's most blissful day...
First stripping myself naked, ripping off my cassock,
shoes, socks, cincture... but leaving all...
how blissful friend, would that have been?
Had you been there you would have wanted answers, I am sure.
Understanding of my nakedness.
No mystery. The clothes I wear express
the being I put on. Removing them exposes he who sins,
who must abase himself before his great
obsession, his High Queen of Heaven.
A lizard slithering on rock made hot by noon-day sun, was I.
Each flint and cinder tearing at my flesh,
I hauled my prostrate form uphill
to kneel before my mistress, slime and mud baked hard
on me like excrement and blood
on the new born. (Re-born, let's say.)
From deep beside the plinth, an imprint of a young nun's face
stared up at me, its every attribute distinct
... also her wimpole and a jagged mole -
all made before the concrete set. I left mine in a mix of mud
and guano next to hers. And no, my friend,
I didn't hear the buzzing, for by then
great love was imminent, more so than ever I’d imagined.
My head was bowed, my busy lips
bestowing kisses on my lady's feet.
I was transported far from sight and sound, and therefore did
not see the swarm of bees, much less
its angel shape or details worked there-in:
the angel's wings, the halo, long-tailed whip... and yes,
I felt the bee stings, sure I did - assumed
They were my lady's scourge, that some
degree of foreplay was coming into play - had I but known,
and knowing of my allergy to bees...
But going into shock... that did for me.
Then when they came to wash me after death.....
not one sting to be seen, my back a mass
of weals and lacerations from a whip.
The story soon got out, of course. The flagellants behind me
saw it all, the stings not least. Then came
the tourists behind them - squadrons
of Japanese with telephoto lenses, selling stories on.
The whole damned world saw all of it -
the whole damned world save me!
And yes, some papers seemed to spread it over every page,
but that was not the half of it:
you could not browse the web without
some guy had caught my agony with camera or phone -
and don't forget the stuff stacked high
and deep on U-tube, Face Book
and the rest, and all the thousands buzzing like those bees
- all clamouring and hammering for facts.
The whole world turns on facts these days,
but clunkily... Want me to tell you why? A clue: have you
not noticed, friend, the way the saints
were driven on by feelings not by facts?
You want to know what finally confounded me? Discovering
the treasured one did not exist. Had not
for centuries, was vandalised, a wreck
cut off above the knees. Yet I had seen her thighs, her belly,
breasts and head ascending - soaring - to
the clouds. I could not cope with that.