Poetry at Sangam

SangamHouse

 










JESUS, SON OF MAN by Kala Krishnan Ramesh

For a carpenter’s son, he’d always seemed
strange. There were jokes about how
he was likely – planing a doorframe, or
waxing a lintel – to suddenly stop
the chisel, or slow the swab and say:
            I am the doorway.
or to ask, as if there was someone
near to answer him:
            Where is
            the window
            to the kingdom?
So when the bird spoke – as he stood
kneewet in the river’s meander,
his head
bended to catch the run of water
from the man’s handcup – even those who
did not understand, nodded that
he had always seemed too strange to be
            a
            carpenter’s
            son;
it was as if he did not believe the solidity
of shapes, textures, planes and joints.
Those who understood – and
they were few- knew the bird had come
to remind them (and him)
whose he was and what he had come
to do.
Ponded into this small place,
where he could fit the garb of
            the
            carpenter’s
            son
he had been content – veiling what was
his and who he was – but now it was
time to enter the sandvast into which other
men had been driven before, to peel away
their stories – layer by
reassuring layer – till they found
the other tale
hidden there.

The desert was a giant slithering creature,
tossing its back and breathing out fire.
Everything burned: there was neither
shade nor green; and above, only
empty clouds reefing the flaming sky.
            The
            carpenter’s
            son,
whose body had often stationed itself
against his father’s doors and
windows – looking at things he seemed
to know – now sat, leaned, fell
againstsandsides that scorched through
skin and pierced into bone.
There was neither door, nor window
here, and none to speak. Had he heard
            the bird
            speak?
Had the bird spoken? And before that,
had the man spoken, saying,
            Not I,
            but
            you?
Had he been mistaken? Was it not time?
Would he know? How would he know?
Who would speak? Who would speak
when there was no one?
By day, sunscorch and by dark,
coldbite and the wind’s howlrush, as if to
fell him down and squeeze him breathless.
And nothing else stirring. Not even
a bat, and surely, no bird. Would another
bird come to tell him he was right?
Was he right? After many days’ passing,
then, through waves of sunsly, the
human shape, walking towards him
and he, the carpenter’s
            son
remembering his
            father.

In this place where nothing grew, his story
wilting and dying, and he, seeking a door-
-way to enter and feel homed.
Then, the humanshape with the manvoice,
calling him Friend, and he, the carpenter’s
            son,
thinking the wait was over.
Beside him, the other, saying:
            I know your father;
            I know you.
then laying his hand on stones, asking:
Why can’t this be bread?And he, the
carpenter’s son, saying: My father
            sent me
            to be a man
to teach men and women to hunger for
what eyes cannot see, or hands touch, and
which the human heart has never birthed.
When the strange companion looked
him eye- to- eye, he knew this one was here
to further the story, move the plot along.
Then, on the temple’s high parapet,
being told: Fling yourself down;
            you are the heir,
even air will guard you. And he saying:
I shall not test my father’s contract.
Next, being winged up to mountain tops
and the companion saying:
            I will heir you
to all the kingdoms
of the earth,
and he answering: I will follow none but

            my father,
and no kingdom can surpass the one
that
will become visible, when women
and men learn to lay down
            the corpse of the world.
Then the shape melting back into hot air
into blue sky and a birdsform of light.

Then He said, the carpenter’s son:
I stand under the lintel of
this doorway I have been
seeking,
and as I look upon my
history divided
into
a
            before
and
an
            after,

I see I am ready
to make the plot turn.

You have known me as
            the carpenter’s son,
for I have been
            the carpenter’s son,
planning and
waxing, sawing and
nailing,
but now it is time
to be son to the father
who carpenters
doorways to the
Kingdom.

It is time for me
to speak