Sacrosanct Sites

[after Patriciajj's epic poem, Shrines]

 

". . . put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the

place whereon thou standest is holy ground."

---Exodus 3:5

 

Most days, parental obstacles
prevented me from making a pilgrimage
to those small sites on their property
that seemed, to me, to be sacrosanct;
corners, the house's north side, or the back fenceline.
Lloyd and Betty sneered at my youthful belief,
and I was only thirteen years old at the time.
"Oh, honey," my mother would say,
as if I had contracted some disease,
"Who has put these ideas into your mind?"
They never could give me credit for my errors,
and refused recognition of good experiences.

 

But when they were often absent
in summer time, when I was home all day,
access to my sacred places was possible---
not noticed by the inquisitive neighbors,
not restricted by my father's gardening chores,
and no confinement to some room in the house.

 

I dressed as seemed appropriate to my intentions,
and to which Lloyd and Betty, had they been present,
would objected vociferously and loudly.
{"Oh honey, who told you this is an acceptable look?"
my wild imagination often confected
my mother's voice and expressions accurately):
my hair, at its natural length and not slicked down;
a baggy, tie-dyed tee shirt in metallic colors;
my faded, bell-bottom jeans, the cuff edges frayed;
and barefoot as required for holy ground
(and by my own delighted comfort).

 

I did not then have sufficient vocabulary
to express the spiritual connection I found out there:
a sense of Jesus, Regnant Lord and Savior,
who may have, at my same age, walked barefoot
through the small precincts of Nazareth
(wherever He stood became holy ground,
as Moses had learned in Exodus, third chapter;
and then the sound of the Ten Commandments theme
played in my head like a confirmation).
I thought of the Cosmos, despite the little I knew
(from articles in National Geographic
and photographs made at Mount Palomar
and displayed with the closing credits
on re-ran episodes of Outer Limits);
The Cosmos is Jesus' workmanship
(or, in the Greek, poiema, the rootword of poem),
as Paul had declared in his letter to Ephesus
that I had not yet read in my very own Bible.
Jesus, the Supreme Poet, had composed His Poem
around and in us, of which we were parts and readers
in a similtaneity that only He can achieve anytime, anywhere.

 

Now I must turn to myth---as metaphor and simile only---
to speak of Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses,
the inspirers of poetry; but herself the daughter
of Earth and Sky; what an attribution
to explain the poetic delectation
to which even I, in early adolescence,
responded although I had not yet read widely.
Poetry, as represented by the Muses,
descended from Earth and Sky through Memory,
and all of this had been composed by Christ,
in and through Whom all existence
continues to consist as Paul explained to the Colossians.

 

(Let me here attempt to explain
to those who might question these inchoate lines:
I have written in varied syllabics
to indicate the unmeasured contours
of my thought in early adolescence;
thought confined only by parental disapproval.
("Oh, honey, who taught you to think like that,
"with grass-stain and street-grime all over your feet?")

 

I remember the day I noticed
my initials reflected, phonetically, Jael
(but that was a girl's name in the Bible,
the book of Judges specifically);
this led to Jeiel in Second Chronicles---
but the years would be long before I could accept it,
and find the most personalized way to express it;
when Christ must increase and I must decrease.

 

Meanwhile,
Dante, Milton, Vergil;
Eliot, H.D., and Stevens;
with a reluctant dash of Pound-foolish---
all of these awaited me,
even the shields of Achilles and Aeneas,
These did not turn away in disgust
from the awkward adolescent that I was---
clumsy of motion, gesture and word;
hair wild, clad in that baggy teeshirt
and faded, bell bottom jeans, and eagerly
barefoot:
and none of that was meant to defy my parents,
but only to gather myself together
as I had been in those days and could be
in the precincts of my sacrosanct sites,
to which Lloyd and Betty often forbid me,
but never wrested from my mind and soul.

 

Starward 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

My poem is a small tribute to a much greater poem, Shrines, in a way---if I might exploit the metaphor---an asteroid might reflect the glorious light of the self-sustaining, self-lighting Sun.

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patriciajj's picture

Your journey to the person

Your journey to the person you are today is compelling, endearingly honest and stirring. I loved the secret pilgrimages to your sacred space: a statement of nonconformity and the search for deeper meaning, your casual yet significant ceremonies of enlightenment, the way you went barefoot like Moses on holy ground. There were also flashes of your glittering wit: "the sound of the Ten Commandments theme played in my head like a confirmation." and some profound reflections that simply shine: "Jesus, as supreme poet, has composed His Poem around and in us . . ." In the end, you showed the power of enduring faith in a soft and eloquent voice. A wonderful journey. Thank you for taking us along. 

 

Starward's picture

This very minor poet

This very minor poet thanks you, who are such a Major Poet, for such an encouraging comment.  This one will carry me along with renewed momentum for a long, long time.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Starward