Poem: Vision of the Rood

The weary floorboards creak to bear
The thoughts I wear so heavy
Like a millstone on my neck
My brooding head I bow, and sigh
And I incline my chin upon my moody breast
Downward drops my gaze
And falls to land upon those ancient planks
That hold my mortal weight
The burden I alone could never carry
Those beams will not forsake their load
Until they break themselves.

I look upon those humble planks
And a swell of thanks springs upward
From a font forgotten, a secret well
Preserved in hidden chambers of the heart,
And like the drop that overflowed a basin
The fleeting look of tenderness
That mended all my wounds
That tended my afflictions
That turned my trials to pleasure
And turned my tears to treasure
Like the fabled straw that broke the camel’s back:
The floorboards underneath me crack,
And open outward like a mystic fan
Or the feathers of a falcon’s wing
Or the plumage of a peacock’s tail
That now can only pale before this vision,
For my onetime planted feet now stand
Upon the starry sky
The Milky Way, unfathomed, spans
All strewn about with dying light
That ferry messages of cosmic plights
And record our destiny together:
A sight that passes any measure.

I raise my eyes, and there behold
Without mistake: the nails
They hammered through those guileless palms
The stakes they drove
Into those naked feet, to fix them
To that faithful stoic wood
As they raised the Cross on Golgotha.

The photo is taken by Jamie King in 2017. My heartfelt thanks to Jamie. This picture took my breath away when I first saw it. It is an image of the interior of Aachen Cathedral, where Emperor Charlemagne is buried.

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