On the Feast of the Innocents
On the eve of the Feast of the Innocents,
when my fingers are chilled with cold,
I sit in a chair by the window to
consider a story of old.
It’s a story within Matthew’s gospel.
It’s harsh and it’s sad and it’s wild.
It’s the tale of a man who loved power so much,
he used it to kill a child.
But not just one child, he killed many.
A slaughter unholy took place;
an act so horrific, so anti-salvific,
an act of disdain and disgrace.
An act so depraved and revolting,
an act so corrupt and debased,
an act so misguided, so cruel and blind-sighted
it seemed to disfigure God’s face.
God’s face that is seen in the sunrise,
is the hope of light at dawn,
is the birth of the blossoms in springtime,
is the tilt of the planet we’re on.
When such a beauty is taken,
days seem to bleed into nights
for mothers who mourn their lost offspring
learn a grief of unparalled might.
A grief that is boundless, extensive,
a sorrow immense, without light
a tenebrious abyss, without starshine
with which it is useless to fight.
As they plead to their core things were different
but wake to accept how it is,
this grief is a burden to buttress,
for a grief void of dreams does not end.
Such a grief has no reason, no logic
is impossible to transcend.
So tell me, how hope finds its method,
how love conquers all in the wake,
when after an act so egregious,
she is deaf to the birdsong at daybreak.
There is no way out of the silence.
There is no escaping the still,
no emancipation from mourning.
There is no beacon on the hill.
There are only waves on the bow of the boat,
and somehow the tide presses on
to a star in the night luminescent,
dazzling beyond where she’s gone.
This light is the breath of a mother
who has lost what no mother can give.
This is the song she keeps singing,
the canticle that makes her live –
I will see you again my beloved,
beyond where the world twirls in time,
beyond where the stars spark triumphant,
in our home where eternities chime.
There I’ll hold you again while hosannah
comes warbling forth from the thrush,
in a place where the dewdrops are luscious,
in a land where the rivers rush.
There were Love survives on its glory,
where no earthly system has sway,
where unlimited stories gush forth
with the dawning of each day.
For to hold mother’s grief with resistance,
to hold fast, let belovedness win,
she surrenders to the power
within her it takes to begin.
For births have a power unriveled,
a force every human has known,
an invitation from all being,
inviting us into our own.
Birth is the power that surpasses,
a portal gifted from a star,
when the wandering bark takes the paddle
and brings us to be where we are.
With birth’s effect fixed far inside her,
beginning the burst of heartbeats,
with the move of her blood flowing through her,
an evil she defeats.
While refusing to take the king’s bludgeon,
she resists his call to despair,
she smiles in the eyes of a monster,
she overcomes hate with care.
Even now, Herod’s vices continue,
while his wrathfulness lives on,
tomorrow again will die Innocents
and yet comes a glimmering dawn.
And though her eyes change as she sees it,
though time takes her age, she looks on.
For she holds in her heart a resistance that
will be there long after she’s gone.
While I sit on the night of the Innocents
my candle splutters in ash
but its blue glow burns on in the darkness,
it dies but returns with a flash.
For the faith of the light is persistent,
the will of the beat and the breath.
The love of life is alive in birth
is exultant over death.
This is her star in the darkness.
This is the map of her heart.
This is deep hope in the abyss
where galaxies gleam and start.
For somehow there must be a mansion,
a fountain, a mountain, a dove
and death will be defeated
by the infinite birth of love.
~ Kate Newman
Art: Kate Newman, picture original photograph with digital alteration,