Jamie Harrison Dunk: Maranatha Australis

Maranatha Australis
Jamie Harrison Dunk

If our Lord had been born in spring,
We would yearly rehearse the idea
that the birth of a child might bring peace:
In the manner of buds, and apple blossoms,
As flowers open to the sun, and
Give themselves to the world.

We forget when it was he rubbed his eyes with too-small hands, and screamed.
Metaphors were conceived in the north,
And wrapped in strange bohemian saints and kings,
But those who received the words of truth and life
From men who saw and loved the man
Blinked, and then colonised the world.

The gospel was forced upon men and women in the farthest reaches
(Whom they did not know whether to paint or put in galleys and trade amongst themselves).
Agents of empire in red and black.
They saw and did not see the power of their words, which
In the space between homily and massacre, floundered.

A southern Christmas carries these burdens
It is not that he now lacks any part of this earth to call his own
But the manner of annunciation.
Where did the message of peace come in peace—
How did these words not shrivel in those white throats—
When did Christ take up the sword?

Say you will not take up this burden, that it must be carried by others
In some absolved past
But it belongs to any one who cries immanuel in the morning
After laying in this poisoned earth through the eve, who
Sings hark the angels in a scarred new world.

For he was born unto all.
This made the world new.
The heavens surged with joy
Round words of peace fell from the stars
And landed even here.

Did we need to come through slaughter.
Savage, and then civilise,
And was peace, that open flower,
That cup of water, ever ours to give—
Or only theirs to lose.

We are not our fathers but our past overflows.
It boils with forgetful praise from pulpit, from parliament,
It is in our blunt hearts and silted lungs and tarred songs.
We pine for christendom,
That bastard state.

We were never meant to take up the Word—
somewhere translated Reason—
And with sophistry, and brutality, destroy
These lyrical peoples, heirs-in-common of perfection.

These the jarring bells that ring,
This the wound, the pall between
The old carols that we sing and
A past which cannot be sung.

Marana, tha. We still have lost our way.

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