18 December 2016

A tenebris ad lucem
From darkness to light

"And so my dearest Aunt I have to tell you
I have been given an old manuscript
of A Tenebris ad Lucem, which I must study
eating my way through its covers and leaves.
Its oak boards would be my book cover of choice,
 but on each vellum leaf of text the miniatures 
 of bright malachite and lapis lazuli, 
of gold and cinnabar, show stories so shocking
that it seems I am embarking on a journey
through a land of diabolical horrors.

"I walk now in a dark forest where dense foliage
overwhelms the light, and the stony path
leads only into a miasma of despair.
I peer out between massive trees to see
a site both of tragedy and savage beauty.
A great wall of water, Leviathan risen
from the ocean, pounds inexorably across
the land destroying everything in its path,
whole villages smashed, animals and men
tossed into the air like feathers in the wind.

"Across endless fields of battle, I hear nations
mourning their dead, the flowers of many forests
are cut down and shattered by mine and gun,
enemies attack in an unseemly dance
of cracking sinew, hot blood and broken bone.
The little Forest Owlet cries out for his home
disappeared under the blade of an illicit axe,
an Amoy Tiger roars in vain for his lost mate
while a single Great Humped Back Whale sings
his eerie threnody to a long empty sea.

"It is as if all the oppressed and dispossessed
of this land are gathered at my back with 
voices raised in a great Anthem of Destruction
which almost completely overwhelms me.
Numb, I shrink back into my orange shell,
fold my six legs and await my gruesome fate.
But the dark canopy falls away and tall figures
clothed in light glide across a sunlit plain,
proclaiming that love alone heals loss and sorrow,
and brings fresh hope into a world of fear.

"Boys who once carried rifles on their shoulders
play again in green fields beside the river,
the starving and the homeless are sheltered and fed,
prisoners are set free and old enemies embrace.
An Amoy Tigress comes out of the forest
two new cubs playing like kittens around her heels,
flowers wash the ground where blood once was spilled,
eager saplings spring from craters of devastation. 
It is a new song this shining world now sings,
a soaring Hosannah of love and joy.

"I make my way along the path through soft grass
into the golden light of a new day, 
through the final leaf of my book to find
the old oak board, gateway back to my home.
As I pass the figures of light, one with eyes
deep and dark as the waters of Bethesda,
gives me a blessing and I see that his wrists
are deeply scarred where nails were driven through.
And I bow low to this Man of Light and Peace.
I remain as ever your most affectionate nephew,
Apollonius Bostrichus Capucinus”

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