12/10/2012 12:33 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2013

Advent: The Body Incarnated Bears New Light

for Maureen Mullen

I remember your advent
assumed the rounded shape hope
has, how the arching

patch of whiteness you incorporated
indicated the gleam an apple boasts
nesting in folds

in a work you called "Anticipating"
which might have been called
"The Body Incarnated

Bears New Light." Every time
I spy the small pliable
matrix affixed to your wall

sculpted of a screen--
I recall you served as unknowing
model. A disciple coaxed

its gravid planes.
It embarrassed her, you said
of the student who shaped the burgeoning

blossom of soft hardware,
using you, Lady of Colors
With Child, as her model.

We laughed at that --
teaching with a belly
full of human

meat heading for humanity
(The teacher had sex! The teacher had sex!)
evidence rendering it in three

dimensions. That was the kind of nerve
you wrung out in the daylight-mottled,
paint-dappled lab of tenable meta-

physics which was your
classroom but which really was
your basilica. There angels fired

up prepared to push
ethereal billets doux
into the material realm

via the spasmodic machinery
of ordinary miracle meat
singing hark in the key of protoplasm.

The hope is that they arrive,
bust down big doors
which hinge on all that

lies between here and there
where hope is held
out. Christmas nears. In these parts,

the sound of tender dropping
into the red
enamel Salvation

belly is no small ting.
Tongues in crowns
kick off responses.

Hearts go out
in overcoats and mufflers.
Breath grows

visible. Air shivers,
bleary sprays of man-
made lights adorn against

shrinking daylight as it whittles
toward purple depths. We are drawn
indoors. There heat's mechanical

racket heralds a rising,
clangs punctuated by hiss,
pipes that invite us

to curl up like cats--
like the heat-seeking beasts
we are. December bears the scent of hearths,

residential fire, dips into
reaches into the Quinacrodone root of bones.
Panes rattle in frames.

On the first of December
you were back with a luscious vengeance,
a Napthol angel or blood-rose dove,

busy about the fleches and my double apse.
Never more absent and never more
present. I remember how you cried

here in this nave. It was long before
your frame had begun to push
beyond your lovely skin

on route to solving
into your spirit. It was
just before Easter -- at Catholic Tenebrae,

to be exact. The strepitus sounded,
the lights returned to touch off your tears.
A pastel Macarena when the lights came back

on, you wept over the fullness
as it crowned you with a halo of stars.
"The bones of the church,"

you said,
"You can really see them
in the dark."

December 1, 2010

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