I recently came across my one try at epic poetry, a poem I had written in 1992. Titled Kerygma Mysterion, it attempts a retelling of the Christian biblical narrative. Twenty-six years ago I had not yet discovered Religious Studies, and I still carried a refreshingly naïve view of religion. Here is an excerpt from the poem:
Snow mixed the driving sleet into a whiter cold of wet. Winter weights a heavy gray of frozen worry for a young girl come into the city, Sunk into the worn-out springs of an old Ford truck driven By the man she would marry soon. But now it’s late, The stores closed for most of the winter night, and the money nearly gone. He had hoped, she knew, that they would camp, Maybe in a park, maybe in a low corner of a dark cemetery. But rain, then sleet, now snow meant another night Cramped into the drafty cab with old blankets still damp from the first rain three nights ago A thousand miles from here. She wanted to be at home, to be in a warmer circle of family she had known all of her seventeen years. But dreams had frightened her into running hard until she had come to her cousin’s place, to the foothills across to the other side of the ridge, the other side of hollows and streambeds she had followed all the days that life had blessed her with. She stayed there with her cousin, the two of them both ripe with child, until the young man in his old Ford came to claim her love, Came bouncing up the gravel road, and off they went in search of work, in search of a new life, to be counted among the millions in the cold winter of the city. A siren flashes by. Snowflakes come down big as quarters, settling into low places, swirling around a sharp corner and drifting up over the curb. Vents in the floorboards wheeze out a warm breath of air, But the girl shivers and wraps another blanket over her legs. Wind begins to blow steadily from the west. The pickup turns away from the city lights Heading down an old road through dark trees. She stares at the black trunks marching by between The flakes falling from a heavy sky turning the world to a crystal white, a white that seems to dazzle from a face staring back at her between the black of branches. She had never known such a white, But she had seen the face in dreams that rushed through the doors of her sleep and rustled in the deepest corners of her being. A single flake of snow stares at her from the windshield, frozen in place Like two thousand years gone by in a flood of tears, in a slow roll of laughter seeping in From the smoky light of a corner bar Where whores sidle up to cowboys, Not for money, but for the musky warmth of two bodies standing side by side, Bridging a gulf too wide for love. The whistle of wind rushes in through the rusted door, her shoulders crusted with a glaze of frost. They slept that night in a barn hidden at the end of a narrow lane. They laid the blankets down in a corner of old straw To sleep.
[Post 103 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨