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Incarnate

The word speaks into darkness
before the start of time—though darkness

makes no sense when light's not yet created,
and couldn't be before with time unmade.

The word is the maker making. When it speaks
it says order, sacred equations that

Einstein and Bohr will one day climb
the Sinai of science to receive,

and with it energy, the birth of stuff,
a blowout in the factory of quarks

and Higgses’ and who knows who else’s bosons,
a mess of mass spun into suns and planets

and at last deoxyribonucleic acid,
the lovely Lego bricks of life. It's all good,

in a too-hot-to-touch, tumultuous
kind of way, but what it really means

is love, which is what the maker's mostly made of,
and nothing is loved at speed. By the 4.8

thousand billionth day of creation, give or take,
something has emerged which can look up

to the skies it came from and ask not only
how
but why. It is lovable, the maker knows,

but it is troubled and will always die:
space-time's the working out of entropy,

a stage set for compassion, the context
of the great experiment of
transformation

and so they make their entrance, having known
always that love would be embodied here.

                                   *

The being born in Palestine is not
for
human comprehension—two

natures that cannot be reconciled
and
a double paradox, a free god

compelled by their inherent character
to
do what an immortal cannot do

and die for their beloved. From Bethlehem
the
road never went back to Eden

this was no Plan B to renovate
a ruined
playground of perfection,

but the primary agenda of a love
un
satisfied until it's wholly spent.

Love went on by way of Golgolta,
extinguished at the intersection of

eternity with existential rage,
its
shroud shed like a chrysalis to birth

a kingdom of forgotten things
brought
back into the light. It goes on still

through Pentecost to Revelation's glimpse
of
heaven and earth renewed, and in between

the god-child and the king of glory walks
their
most unlikely incarnationus,

their body now, in via dolorosa,
the word made flesh, redeemed by Love to love.


Written for the carol service ("Out of darkness") at St Johns Church, West Ealing in 2013 where it was read by Elizabeth Healey. It was originally performed in two parts, as a prologue and epilogue to the service: the break comes at "The being born at Bethlehem...". The first section followed the reading of John 1, 1-5 ("In the beginning was the Word"). It has been revised considerably since its first reading.

The phrase nothing is loved at speed is adapted from a prayer written by the cartoonist Michael Leunig. I have used it in another poem, and make no apology for using it again here as it is a great way of expressing this truth.

4.8 thousand billion is an approximation of the number of days from the Big Bang to the emergence of hominids on earth. If my arithmetic is faulty please let me know.

Deoxyribonucleic acid is DNA.  

via dolorosa ("Way of Sorrows") is the road in Jerusalem along which Christ is said to have carried his cross to Golgolta ("skull" in Aramaic) where he was reportedly crucified. The more common name Calvary is derived from the Latin Calvariae Locus, "place of the skull".   

Typical performance time: 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Godfrey Rust 2013-2020, godfrey@wordsout.co.uk. See here for permissions.