Mark Sauer

Rookie - 94 Points (1958 / Texas, U.S.A.)

The Threshing Floor - Poem by Mark Sauer

For generations numberless
The women came to beat the grain,
Their laughter wafting with the chaff;
After, soft rain swept clean the rock.
Before, silence, except when once
Came Abraham without the ram,
There echoed brief across the plain
The plaintive sound of Isaac bound.
Until the king in fevered dream,
In tossing sick on sweaty tick,
Uriah and plague-angel haunted,
Paid gold for sleep and bought the stone.
Six hundred shekels could not buy
The peace hoped for; just a stone floor.
He to his son (and not most loved)
Bequeathed the stone to build upon.

A long millennium enclosed,
Three temples raised, three temples razed,
It felt brief sun. Egypt, Babel, Rome
Defiled the holy, treading the stone
And dust of tabernacle linen,
With unclean hands bloodstained the ark.
Once, the veil was rent, unremarked.
Each time built higher by smaller men,
Next age the rock bore a new god,
Jove Capitol bent enthroned, and gloated
As incense and burnt blood floated
Above the pavement Pompey trod.

Then returned the One, with his Son,
When Constantine for Nazarene
Raised the fifth house on the worn floor.
Jove melted down into a cross,
Like ark and lamp and table, lost.
The incense smelt as it smelled before
But a new roof sealed the parched stone.
East and West kneeled, facing the floor.
Christ's altar rose where Solomon
Bowed and David wept o'er mute rock.
But Caesar aged, and Shah grew proud,
The fifth house toppled to the ground.

Nomads wandering at prophet's word
Strode bemused the wreck, not one stone
Upon another. A golden dome
Was lifted by the caliph's sword,
The sixth house roofed the threshing floor.
The plundered stone they said now bore
The hoof-print of their prophet's steed;
The cross knights marched to steal it back,
Blood splashed again upon the rock
In gleeful sacrifice to greed.


Six temples in three thousand years,
Dead empires' pillaged sepulchers
Built and broken, do not atone
Uriah's murder; martyred stone
Cannot bless a million dead, nor one.
We are all David; there are none
Clean, fit to frame His earthly home.
We parse His world and set aside
His plot, His modest sanctuary line,
But Adam's seed will not confine
Their lusts to the vast world outside;
Eden's refugees must break in
To the last sinless spot, to sin.

For generations numberless
The women came to beat the grain,
Their laughter wafting with the chaff;
After, soft rain swept clean the rock.
The God who built this house for us
To grow the grain for bread to leaven
Preferred, I think, the roof of heaven.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 21, 2012

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