From the bed of murder and treason
I wake to the smell of jasmine.
Standing in the doorway staggered,
I wonder like a child at this new world.
What blinding gold light in the orchard!
Saturn swung close and heavy on the horizon,
daring and sweet, the milk of galaxies,
the pulp of Jupiter tumble at my feet,
the honey of mercy: for the debt of my
crimes is swallowed in his riches!
He has taken my Master away and I
am left speechless, a freedwoman.
He has taken the sting from the
spider Death, this King of the Jews, this
Lamb of God. It is finished,
and I’ll forevermore read this page:
The End. The End. The End–
Lady Macbeth in a clean white shirt
laughing and crying where the almond trees bloom.
I have worked all my life to
whitewash this tomb that tomorrow
you will turn to a temple.
Every year on Good Friday, these songs help me pause and take a sober look at the brutal weight of what, exactly, we’re remembering this day. Rich with theology and perfect for communicating the heaviness of the Cruxifiction but always with hope breaking through the heaviness, I cannot recommend these songs more as a way to meditate on the heartbreaking, amazing sacrificial death of our Lord.
A ruby-throated humming bird in a tin can
bleeds from the sharp edges of what contains him.
The sky is dark with sulfur and vinegar
as I take my verdict straight, no chaser.
Somewhere in a field, Abel breathes his last;
somewhere in the desert a goat
bleats bleakly as it carries off the sins of Israel.
I am the thorns of the curse
grown knee-deep around the tree of the curse,
and he wears the thorns of the curse for a
crown as he hauls the tree of the curse up towards Golgotha.
The sky is dark at midday, today.
What I want is simple; it is a brutal knife.
The bells fly to Rome,
the angels gather,
the wine is dark in the house of feasting.
The lameness in my bones need not
wait for the troubling of the waters, for look!
the Son of Man is here.
Underfoot the palm branches bruise
and the heat beats like brass on my neck.
Here is the house of healing,
and who sinned, that we are thus blind:
we, or our fathers and mothers?
But the writing in the dust, on the wall,
the broken bread, the sweat, the silver,
tumbling along with the churning of the water–
God with us, and He will save his people from their sins—
The wine, the wine;
the blood and the wine!
What I want is simple; it is far as stars.
Today as I pray, half-asleep, at dawn,
thin the parsley sprouts, sweep,
fold laundry like I’m folding cards,
I recollect that I am not whole.
I am the charred tongue, rough and forked,
I am the brazen feet gone molten with lust,
I am the silty water, slick with oil, churning
and heaving in the gale-force winds.
I look at you and am blind,
sighted a long way off and
met by your broad compassion
as a stubborn shore meets
wave after wave after wave.
Salt and light in my coastal fractures,
you scour me clean, but today
I remember: ashes to ashes, dust to dust–
what I want is simple; it is everything.