POETRY: Saint John Baptist, by Daniel Berrigan

I
A sword forbade me to grow old; it cut
time like a parasite from eternity.

Could death have eyed and pierced my body, could I
have stood upon the nails an hour,
would he take warning from his murdered shade

casting his fate in smoky runes
with points of light
like lips where death had fastened?

I follow from sad limbo
till death unfasten, till his rising
unwind and wear me
aureole      choir      crown

II
In the mirror a sword made
descending
briefer than image a stream carries
beyond,
I saw John old: eyes cold, hair silver.

Look how I save you
sang the blade strongly:
dwarfing honors, prophecies by rote
a stalemate heart. Freedman, stand free.

I caught in two hands
this unripe storm-shaken
fruit, by hate
(by love) tossed down
tasted at soul’s root that wine’s stream.

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