The Church Of The Valentine - Poem by Leo Briones
From the very distance of my soul fathomless like the sea but sad like the dry creek embedded between the desert's rolling dunes,
I have risen here to place my light upon the bright and shining hill of the fertile peace and noble solitude of my finest days. And, here I stand.
My stale wonder is the constant struggle of this life as I pull the unbearable cart of untenable memory.
This evokes a haunting and broken certainty because I also remember the load lifted from the heart of a defeated man.
It is a memory of walking on cold wet sand, my feet are blistered, bruised with the exhilaration of nature bound to man.
You are walking beside me, with me, through me—the hollow melancholy of your eyes and the careful pride of your fear has faded now. There is left only the polished seed of a lover's astonishment.
My spirit is stark, naked before you; but I feel neither the shame of Eden's curse nor the unbearable vanity of manliness.
Indeed, I am neither man nor woman, Greek nor Jew. I speak rather as the affable spirit of a pleasant memory.
You tell me like your father before me, I am big and hearty. Full of the exceptional appreciation which is the recognition of the exact genus of your seed.
I see your sadness. So, I am careful. I smile with exactness into the heart of you like a proud parent whose child has fulfilled the ambition of expectations.
I think of making love with you. But only to your eyes— vivid and distant— forlorn yet kind, they are portals.
So I enter. I seek only to find the passion of your ancestors; embedded in a heart —redder than a rose— in dream brighter than the spotlight of this frozen insanity, and I am crazed.
I am a Roman soldier off to war believing that the fight is not worth the glory. I reject "Claudius The Mean" and his cruel ways. I seek sanctuary.
There is a church I have never called home. But it has always called to me. Its prophet is dressed in the pure white robes of chastity. Yet, he believes in an ardent grueling love.
I tell him I am running. My purpose is resolute. I seek the heart. Kindness. The sensual grasp of our first hug. I seek white linen. A hand sworn to eternity. To make love to her brown eyes— again and again and once again.
He has seen this before. But tells me there is something different. He anoints me with mirth and frankincense. I tell him I am willing to take this to my grave.
He encourages me. It is not the age to hide your face in shame. One day soon love will rule the world. But that is for our children to see. Today, we must suffer.
I walk toward the lion's den. He continues to request longsuffering. I look for you in the crowd among the festival of Latifunda slavery, merchants and prostitutes. They are not you.
I tell him of our innocent love—furtive glances and holding hands. Of the beach and blistering sand. He holds a talisman in his hand. It is the polished seed of your kindness.
I am rising now. My heart seeks the refuge and hope of memory. I hold the talisman to my face. I breathe deeply in search of you. I seek to be anointed by your oil.
This is the last theater. The crowd is lurching. They sway back and forth frenzied by the rhythm of blood. Suddenly there is a terrible weeping. For even they notice who has come.
All their hands are bloody now. My heart bleeds your memory. I rise and look to place my light on the shining hill. But I am subjugated, bent to the knee. Saint Valentine is next to me. He leans and whispers that there is no death only the crucifixion of our love.
We here before all time recognize the representation of this sharp and bloody blade. It saves our pain. And for one moment we can see our head sliced from the empty shell of what remains.
Spirits float and soar on time. The oneness of our contemplation fades between the three layers of the God in me. There is a certain glory here that I have always known. My father and mother lay their hands on me to welcome me home.
I am wearing a white robe. I look just like him. He encourages peace. I understand. Still my life was only gratifying a moment at a time. I maintain the sadness of memory. A sadness that is really quite simply a question—I have died for her, will she die for me?
I wait to see.
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