Just Before Dark

I’ve often wondered at the extended version of the Gethsemane conversation going on in the Son of Man’s head as the darkness approached…

You’ve one last labor. You must learn
the final lesson of imprecision: to draw
the whole rotten earth in and mingle
with its rottenness and sweetness.
Death – the chore that will become sacred,
but a chore nevertheless. You will have to
direct all your energies at a final harmony
arriving at a temporary silence to stun the world.
You must make the whorish moment durable,
so take the thorns and nails as concessions
to those who would demand of you a poetry.
I will miss this broken eden with its fine layer of lint
and unpleasant marriages. O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem.
Yes, but this is your ripening despite history.
Your final act will not be repeated.
It must not be rendered dishonestly.
I wish there was another way.
Such a price to see the dawn.
The birth pangs are nearly finished.
I have loved the earth but cannot stay.

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  1. consolationofmirth on March 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    “…mingle with its rottenness and sweetness.” It takes a lot of love to stomach that. Amazing. Thanks, John.

  2. nwhannas on March 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Tears, John. Your words drip like Jesus’ sweat. And pour into my heart.

  3. hisfirefly on March 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    no words, breathing tears, exhaling “yes”

  4. Diana Trautwein on March 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Yield. Yes, that. And the crazy mixed-up-ness of this world, this humanity. Thank you.

  5. tonia on March 27, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Thank you.

  6. Maundy Thursday | G. C. Jeffers on March 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    […] And now the third cup. Such a price to see the dawn. […]

    • thebeautifuldue on March 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks, G.C.

      • Gregory Jeffers on March 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        You’re welcome. I keep coming back to this poem. Thank you for sharing it. It’s now lodged in my soul.

  7. Kimberlie Ott on October 12, 2013 at 4:03 am


  8. […] And now the third cup. Such a price to see the dawn. […]

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