EPISTEMOLOGY

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They never should have shown me
those pictures:  the man who
wore a long white robe, sandals,
his moist brown eyes always looking up,
his long silk hair surrounded by a mist of gold.

They told me it was he who changed the world.
He spoke wise words but never wrote them down.
With time I learned he was the one
who saved me.  From what, I did not know.
He had to be killed in order to do it.

After that, no robe, no sandals.
Nearly naked, limp hair matted,
head hung low, he was nailed
to a hideous wooden cross.  I was
too young to not look, to not listen.

I put the pictures, the story, the cross
away in a deep place where
things never let go.  Even though
all of it happened when I wasn’t there.
Nor was anyone who told me so.

9 responses »

  1. I love this poem/reflection Cynthia. I want so much for “him” to actually look like this and do all the things they said “he” would do. You have taken me back to a picture of Christ on the wall of a Sunday school room when I was a child, one of those pictures where the eyes follow you wherever you go in the room. He was exactly how you descibe him in your poem.

    It feels like yesterday when I was in that room wondering how on earth so little bread and so few fish could feed all those people! I never dare question it though, that sort of question just wasnt asked.

    Xx

    • Once again, Christine, I am impressed by the number of memories we hold in common. In mid- November I will be moving back to the place where I grew up, after a half-century’s absence. The process is currently taxing, in the extreme, both physically and spiritually, and probably accounts for all these childhood memories in the poems. It’s a comfort to share them….and you’re so good at it! Thank you for your visit here and continued good will, my friend.

  2. Wow Cynthia! 50 years, that’s some leap youre about to take! And yes it draws on all your resources, physical, spiritual and emotional. You have courage! We are getting a downstairs shower room fitted soon so that in the eventuality that stairs will be a huge problem we can stay here where we have lived for 34 years. I hope your move goes smoothly. Im sure you will be writing more about it!

    And thank you too, for your support, encouragement and friendship.

  3. Oh, those days of early certainties when we asked ‘why?’ and ‘what next?’ rather than ‘really?’ and ‘how do they know?’.
    I do wish you luck with that move.
    (Don’t feel you have to reply, Cynthia.)

    • It is my pleasure to reply, John. As I make my way through the labyrinth of cardboard boxes and dense bureaucrats, this little blog serves as respite and oasis–as restorative as and more productive than tears, when real fatigue sets in. Thank you for your kindness.

  4. Cynthia; this poem is superb! It conjures up that image of the dying Christ that so many of us were given when we were too young to fully comprehend and were unable to filter. “I was
    too young to not look, to not listen.” is a powerful comment. Perhaps the residual child in each of us still shares the feelings and emotions so poignantly expressed in your poem. You are a master and my blogging poetess favorite. Cheerio, Jane.
    P.S. Before reading the above exchange I didn’t know that you are packing and empathize. Packing forces downsizing and, for me, makes me wonder at the richness of my possessions. But of all your possessions, one of your best gifts will not need to be packed, as I suspect that you will be writing beautiful poems wherever you are. JS.

    • Dear Jane…..what a nice phrase…”the residual child in each of us..” The emotions do not age, I think, and my grip on them, at the moment, is tenuous at best. So I will only say that I am deeply touched by your words and will keep them for courage and warmth whenever this relocation process gets rough. Cheerio!

  5. “I put the ….. away in a deep place where things never let go”

    These words strike chords within. Some things never change, I reckon.

    For myself, I rather not return to places once lived – to awaken ghosts past, for new ghosts await my passage ahead – new awakenings.

    I wish you patience and a stout heart, and all good wishes,
    Eric

    • Thank you, Eric. It’s not my dream choice, but as they used to say, life happens while you’re making other plans. (Isn’t the subtitle of your novel The Return?) Contemplating what I am about to do puts me in mind of T.S. Eliot’ s famous observation:
      ” We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all
      our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the
      place for the first time.”

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