Second Letter to John

           How explain his effrontery? You ask as if I knew. He’d offer clear, cold water and just as we drank, shatter the vessel of interpretation. He reveled in pushing figures of speech off the precipice.

           I’m still puzzled by his taunting us like some Dionysiac to cannibalism, offering his breadflesh and wineblood. I found myself at times uneasy, as you know, passing in deja vu from the white room to the red, seated with “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover” before the served body. Then, just as we reached to partake of understanding, his figures swerved, and we stumbled.

           And the opposite. Bending the literal into figure. Outrageously inviting Thomas to try on his body like a bloody glove. As if that could prove anything. Belief suddenly become as pointless as unbelief. He delighted in making us uncomfortable in our own language. And in our bodies, as if we needed new ones, metamorphosing letter to figure like some mathematics of the spirit. Lazarus sleeps.

           Then bending down beyond his bright and dark sayings, finger to the ground. In that tense moment we looked at each other empty. I still remember the paralyzing clarity of his act. Now I know what it must have been to see Ezekiel in the tree. The teacher simply bent down before that poor woman and inscribed on the ground. The hostile mob surrounding, struck dumb as a tree. Who could interpret. Who dared? The talker of all time silent.

           Writing or drawing we didn’t know. Was he inscribing a sign or simply a glyph in the ground to make of that mark his point, nothing more? I remember thinking “he’s stalling for time”. But what a spell when we saw in the dust that speaking picture. . . . The look in your eyes, who could forget, said we’ll never know keener sounds than on that day under a metal sun.