A Passion

the be held and to behold / are an initiation / this is how it begins / if we are / at a beginning / something must also be / ending / this is the end of eyes / this is the start / of sight //

i wept alone in the garden / beside the guava tree / the olives of gethsemane / were far from me now / but the dark night was the same / the others caviled / just beyond the hedge / trading pleasantries and judgments / i could see their bodies / moving but they were deep / in sleep / i prayed i prayed i / prayed / i prayed into the black bowl of stars overhead / what is it to be on this earth? //

i could have walked / the whole journey on my knees / spilling blood no longer alarms me / haven’t i been conditioned / to fall down / before the mighty? haven’t i been taught to call myself weak? / the earth-bound enthusiasm of the crowds has died / down and the streets are empty now / and i go lovingly into such doom / as only i can / must shoulder //

in the bed in outer sunset / no one saw / his eyes were closed / my eyes were closed / neither of us knew the color / of the monstrosity until later / i was laid / out torn / through / abandoned / on the hill / i rushed into a tomb of my own making / for years my body / made appearances / on the other side / but always went back to the grave / no one saw / not even me // i’m getting another chance / now to make the ascent / to embrace the execution / this time out of love / out of free surrender / to place a placard above my battered body that reads / this suffering is not – who i am – but who – i am – is someone who accepts – this suffering //

that one tried to wash his hands of me / that one kept pouring fresh water in the basin / that one tried to mount the case against me / that one tried to trap me with floral-scented questions and flaunted the protocols / my preaching my teaching my message my love / unreceivable / that one wonders whether to believe me / that one is still trying to rile the crowd / assemble the rabble / break my bastion-body / that one is telling everyone to go home / that one can’t be convinced to walk away / those ones will one day / have to reckon with / their misplaced desires / for now they have done their job / well because i no longer / want to go to sleep / and now those ones watch me fall / to my knees / and remind me that my legs aren’t / broken / i decline the terms of the game / and play until / i decide / it is finished//

you’ve never seen / love like this before / you’ve never seen power / refuse to dominate / you’ve never had to look into the well / the chalice / the jug / the fountain / and find such latent evil / where living water / should be / you’ve never dared believe that nothing / was the answer / that emptiness was the solution / that getting it right could hurt / you’ve never been asked to raise you eyes beyond the dust / but here / i am / on the hill / and you can’t look away / listen to me refuse / those small consolations / agonize / pray a prayer you / can hardly imagine / forgive them // only the sleep-walking malice missionaries / and soul-shattered beloveds / remain which one / are you //

for the stories / he was willing to tell / about the least / among us the woman / at the well / the overlooked outcast / for the hands / he laid on this blistered breasts / and blood-forsaken feet / and corrupt but contrite souls / for the wounds he was willing to kiss / for the love made visible in his eyes / they have come to kill him / he wept / and then said yes // for the stories / i am willing to tell / about the great chain of being / and the seeds that belong to rocks / for the hearts i have gathered / at the gate of enchantment / for the hate i refuse / to ingest for the battle i fight / without a single weapon / for the dreams / in which we say yes / and mean it / they have come / to kill me / so i weep too / and then say yes //

if someone must be blamed / blame me / if someone must be mocked / mock me / if someone must be eliminated / eliminate me / this is how / i prayed my prayer / is being answered / i choose / this death / for what it is / the end of a lie / the birth of my first / freedom //

Alison Davis

Alison Davis is an educator, author, and activist in Northern California. She holds degrees in literary studies from Very Prestigious Universities but sees her willingness to be like Rumi and gamble everything for love as her greatest credential. Her work has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly publications, including The Sun and SAUTI: Stanford Journal of African Studies.

Journey to the Heart of Gaia
You are a Mountain — Blessing for my father on his 93rd birthday