You think, bird, that God's too indirect?
Why else send out missionaries?
Have the Ninevites no holy men,
No local Savoranolas on hand,
To whom God might telegraph his law
And thereby save weeks of precious time?
Were all the local prophets too obtuse,
Or too pricey or too set in their ways,
Or too sunk in self-glorification
To help their town escape the wrath of God?
Surely the Lord could find a loose prophet
Inside the target market postal code,
Grab him early before he gets plastered,
Make him recite the necessary words
And spare me this lengthy, arid approach.
And there was so little of note enroute
That one couldn't regard the long delay
As some kind of useful preparation.
I made no friends, found no wisdom,
Found no swords, no wrenches, no keys,
No assistance half-buried in dust.
Futile action itself prepares wisdom.
This is how we instruct our labour force
So as to keep their wages low, she said.
That, of course, won't console a man
Who takes a trudge on Godhead's treadmill
And finds no keepsakes, no souvenirs.
I'll not give a detailed travelogue
Of all the empty space I travelled through,
Crows overhead, rubble underfoot,
Although some prophets of greater patience
And greater all-round enthusiasm
Would not fail to draw instructive lessons
From all of that ruin scattered around.
They'd tell you at length what all this meant,
What fragments once meant when last intact
And what now their crumbling edges portend.
They'd send them back home to put on display
With placards beneath that spell it all out,
The parts of fallen walls that range in size
From extra large, boulders, down to petit,
Pebbles, grains of sand, invisible grit.
Rubble draws prophets and fills them with awe,
Attracts their appetites for hidden pith,
Inspires their profound, heartfelt invective
Against man's vain preoccupations.
I well knew how ruins such as these
Inflame the brains of starving holy men
And send them out on tour to tell the world
Just how futile human effort is.
I'd heard their words, seen the photographs
That find a glory buried beneath rocks,
A blaze whose bright brand so etches eyes
That even snuffed it makes the dark its own.
I tried my best to duplicate their art
But such deep observations won't come
To sight unschooled in customary dooms,
To vision like mine, the cursory sort.
Mine was not the kind that made me kindred
To those that landscapes pull down and eat.
My vision viewed sun-corrupted corpses,
Recent victims of internecine strife
Often found in a barren countryside,
Without laying myself down among them.
Don't your people take sport in feud,
In mocking one who looks much like you
For the few slight traits you two don't share,
Until you both, your weapons poised, embrace?
Of course, Marguerite. And how could they not?
Only your own brother, although weaned,
Will try to pry your mouth from mother's milk,
Try to wedge in his fratricidal gaze
So that lips never reach nipple tip,
And then, with that same jealous gauze,
Gown his bride to slow down his own son.
In this matter, at least, we're all akin.
Competition, woman, is all that counts.
Liber Jonae Contents