Skip to main content


ISSUE:  Spring 1975


“And His raiment was white as the light.”

THE invisible life that sleeps in the grossness of things
and feeds on the bulk of the world,
bringing substance and weight and degree—

the tumescence
that traces a thread in the loins to the swamp
of our human duration

and insists on the blood and the bone of our presence—
shows the world’s burning,
turned low, like the flame in the bell of a lamp.

Blue as acetylene, it waits
at the furthest edge of the morning, a transparency
holding a bird and a steely horizon:

the water repeats it, gun-metal on pewter,
pewter on ultramarine,
doubling the universe, spilling the colors

and shapes of a season
on the rubble and flint of a planet, crowding
the leaf to its uttermost margin, filling the spaces,

till nothing is latent, nothing withheld or unnameable:
the spike of the cactus, the fuse in the tulipan, the sun
at its zenith, lie flat on the plane of the sky like an armorer’s

and the fullness of time is complete. Then
that burning away of the air as the glowing erasure
of limit begins: a glare

on the claws and the cusps of poinsettia
tracing the line of the heat with a solderer’s iron, petal
    for petal,
a talon of ash

on a talon of smoking vermilion, forcing the fire at the center
to bloom on the edges and smoulder like metal,
scoring the water

with friezes of hurrying scallops cut into crystal,
blowing the coal of the world’s
calefaction till the unbinding of matter is done,

the visible turns into the invisible,
the invisible, into an omen, and out of the hearth-bed of
the suffering hedonist stands forth—

the man who came eating and drinking, whose clothing was
    white as the light,
lifting the lamp of his skull to the darkness and saying:
    I am the Light
of the World
—to deliver himself to the Romans.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading