my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Mary Karr

Descending Theology: The Garden
~Mary Karr
We know he was a man because, once doomed,
   he begged for reprieve. See him
grieving on his rock under olive trees,
   his companions asleep
on the hard ground around him
   wrapped in old hides.
Not one stayed awake as he'd asked.
   That went through him like a sword.
He wished with all his being to stay
   but gave up
bargaining at the sky. He knew
   it was all mercy anyhow,
unearned as breath. The Father couldn't intervene,
   though that gaze was never
not rapt, a mantle around him. This
   was our doing, our death.
The dark prince had poured the vial of poison
   into the betrayer's ear,
and it was done. Around the oasis where Jesus wept,
   the cracked earth radiated out for miles.
In the green center, Jesus prayed for the pardon
   of Judas, who was approaching
with soldiers, glancing up—as Christ was—into
   the punctured sky till his neck bones
ached. Here is his tear-riven face come
   to press a kiss on his brother.
"Descending Theology: The Garden" by Mary Karr from Sinners Welcome: Poems. © Harper Collins Publishers.
I discovered that Mary Karr has a series of poems entitled Descending Theology.  I selected the one above because I thought it was an interesting contrast to Oliver’s Gethsemane. The words and images in the following poem Descending Theology: the Resurrection, left a strange impression on me.  Initially I did not like the poem and was certain I did not “get it.” But I found myself returning to it, wanting to understand why it had a grip on me. I shared it with Marie and she said she liked it even better than The Grand Miracle and she suggested I post it. I found an analysis of it here, which I found very interesting and helpful.

Descending Theology: The Resurrection
~Mary Karr
From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in — black ice and squid ink —
till the hung flesh was empty.
Lonely in that void even for pain,
he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse's core, the stone fist
of his heart began to bang
on the stiff chest's door, and breath spilled
back into that battered shape. Now

it's your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

"Descending Theology: The Resurrection" by Mary Karr from Sinners Welcome: Poems. © Harper Collins Publishers.


pkcyphert said...

Carol asked me to post her comment as she does not have one of the profiles to comment.

I find the poem "Decending Theology: Garden" of Mary Karr very profound and poignant. She captures in limited words the entire call and ministry of Christ Jesus and invites me to ask the question, "What part did I have in this?" Now I don't believe my question is to impart guilt or shame, rather to ask, "How do I forgive others and myself as well? Where does the need to control affect in a negative way all of life?"
Thanks, Pam, for posting poems.

pkcyphert said...

The part of Garden that is most meaningful to me is the image of Jesus praying for Judas as he is on his way to betray him. This is what I know Christianity to be and this is what I see profoundly lacking in what is visible of the church. And she captures Judas doing what he has to do because he is Judas. How much guilt to we carry around for doing what we do because we are who we are? Jesus teaches us to forgive that.

Jayne said...

I'm puzzling over the final lines in the poem called "Resurrection": "Now it's your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water shatters at birth, rivering every way." I think I understand the part about being filled with Christ's spirit. But I don't understand what "warm water shatters at birth, rivering every way." Could somebody jump in with what they think she means?

pkcyphert said...

I too found that puzzling. I agree it is Christ's spirit filling us, maybe the simile has has to do with being born anew and the water shattering is like the water breaking at birth? then to complete the simile "rivering every way" could be His spirit spilling into every aspect of your being. Be sure to check out this analysis if you haven't aleady.

Anonymous said...

'The tradition of all the dead generations', weighs like a mountain on the mind of the living.

marie-josé said...

Seeing this interesting dialogue, I thought I would just shut up this week. Until I read Jayne's question. To me, "warm water shatters at birth, rivering every way" reflects Karr's conflict about religion and human existence. We are presented with a gift --or told that it is a gift-- but don't know what to do with it. It is up to us to give a certain stream (sense) to the river. Whether or not we find that stream may not be important. Looking for it is.