Cain, Cyborea, Issachar, Joshua Tree, Judas, Laurence Whistler, Moreton Church, nard, parricide, Pilate, Potter's Field, Redbud, Ruben, Scariot, seedpods, Sicarius, strange fruit, thirty pieces silver, Tree of Life
Ever since I wrote my poem called ‘The Forgiveness Window’ (in my Poetry
section), inspired by glass windows in Moreton Church, by Laurence
Whistler, I have been meditating on Judas Iscariot and the question of
forgiveness. This poem has been some time on my back burner, but I gave
birth to it this morning.
The Judas Tree
(George Macdonald: When a man begins to loathe himself he begins to be saved.)
Those plumb-like seed pods cannot mask the corpse.
The sagging branch touches the earth. Strange fruit
suspended from a limb: a pendulum
measuring a moment of treachery.
At each bloom’s heart is a crown of thorns.
From the scarified trunk blood beads burst forth-
a rosary protecting its blush of shame.
Cybore had a premonition:
she dreamt her son would ruin Issachar.
She and her husband, Ruben, cast him off-
Moses-like, adrift, in a pitched basket.
He then washed up on Scariot, whose Queen,
childless, lonely, feigned a pregnancy,
taking the outcast child to her own breast.
Anxiety dispelled, she then conceived
her own son, Jacobus, whom Judas loathed.
Supplanted, he destroyed, as Cain did; fled
to Pilate’s service in Jerusalem.
Then, asked to fetch his master some ripe fruit,
he argued with the owner of the land
and slew him with a rock. Haceldama-
The Field of Blood- is his, with the man’s wife,
who promptly tells him of his parricide.
Now he is Sicarius: ‘assassin.’
He follows Jesus, seeking redemption,
yet dips his fingers in the common purse
and, angry that three hundred silver coins
spent on some precious ointment should be poured
on the Messiah’s feet, he takes umbrage;
betrays his Master for a tenth of that-
the price one paid to liberate a slave.
Since bowels of mercy he had none, he spilt
his innards from that tree, so that his soul’s
quietus should not defile the lips
that had kissed God. He died not on the earth;
nor in the heavens (where men and angels range),
but dangled in the air, devils’ plaything.
Jesus harrowed Hell to plant His tree;
to cut down Judas and to set him free.
Look! Now we see the pods have seeds in them
and, though deciduous, those leaves return,
heart-shaped, assuring us of sins forgiven.
Its branches lifted up, like hands in prayer,
surrounded by an intense cloud of nard,
the Redbud props a ladder to the stars
and even men like Judas can aspire
to Paradise, via The Tree of Life.
Blood-geld bought the Gentile burial plot-
the first Garden of Rest, that Potter’s Field.
(Sanhedrin-laundered guilt’s slick charity.)
But the Potter makes new vessels from shards,
firing up His kiln from the Joshua trees.