POETRY: Magnificat, by Eleanor Wilner

When he had suckled there, he began
to grow: first, he was an infant in her arms,
but soon, drinking and drinking at the sweet
milk she could not keep from filling her,
from pouring into his ravenous mouth,
and filling again, miraculous pitcher, mercy
feeding its own extinction . . . soon he was
huge, towering above her, the landscape,
his shadow stealing the color from the fields,
even the flowers going gray. And they came
like ants, one behind the next, to worship
him—huge as he was, and hungry; it was
his hunger they admired most of all.
So they brought him slaughtered beasts:
goats, oxen, bulls, and finally, their own
kin whose hunger was a kind of shame
to them, a shrinkage; even as his was
beautiful to them, magnified, magnificent.

The day came when they had nothing left
to offer him, having denuded themselves
of all in order to enlarge him, in whose
shadow they dreamed of light: and that
is when the thought began to move, small
at first, a whisper, then a buzz, and finally,
it broke out into words, so loud they thought
it must be prophecy: they would kill him,
and all they had lost in his name would return,
renewed and fresh with the dew of morning.
Hope fed their rage, sharpened their weapons.

And who is she, hooded figure, mourner now
at the fate of what she fed? And the slow rain,
which never ends, who is the father of that?
And who are we who speak, as if the world
were our diorama—its little figures moved
by hidden gears, precious in miniature, tin soldiers,
spears the size of pins, perfect replicas, history
under glass, dusty, old fashioned, a curiosity
that no one any longer wants to see,
excited as they are by the new giant, who feeds
on air, grows daily on radio waves, in cyberspace,
who sows darkness like a desert storm,
who blows like a wind through the Boardrooms,
who touches the hills, and they smoke.


slow rain

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