And priests atone
And where men dwell
Their works are known
How good it is to know
That nothing new is told
That all was done before
I was born to behold
The sky at dawn once more
Not knowing how or when
Now becomes then.
Songs of the Soul in Intimate Amorous Communion with God
O love, you living flame
who wound with tender fire
my very soul, down to its depths descending!
No longer hushed by shame,
come now, to your desire;
sunder the veil that parts for sweet befriending.O soft subjection!
O wound that joys beget!
O gentle hand! O touch with pleasures rife
that hints at resurrection
and ransoms every debt!
You have done death to death, and made it life.O fiery lamps ignited-
whose bright resplendent gleams
light those deep caverns where the mind, in hiding,
dwelt blind and all benighted-
your dazzling radiance streams
warm rays on the beloved there abiding!How tenderly you love me
and conjure in my breast-
that secret place where you alone are treasured-
how—your sweet breath above me-
by heaven's good possessed-
with what rare lover's skill have I been pleasured!
St. John of the Cross,
translated by Rhina P. Espaillat
Eve Names the Kiss
He sat upon the garden wall.
She had her fingers on his knees.
The smallest leaves began to fall.
A subtle difference in the breezePrompted the tiger and the hare
to linger there. Even the snake
slithered closer so to hear
what sound she'd make. They'd heard him speaka thousand times, define the world
from bumblebee to elephant.
His syllables were muscled, bold.
But she, they felt, was different.The future trembled on her lips.
Her mouth was like an apple split,
two halves as supple as her hips.
And when she said the word, he bit.