Wednesday, December 14, 2005

John of the Cross (II) John of the Cross --Rebecca Seiferle He is not here in Fontiveros, Spanish Nebraska of his birth. The red brick granary fills with nothing but wheat, and the empty plaza has forgotten the name of Juan de Yepes, grandson of Jews, though it contains a statue of his alter ego, St John of the Cross. Even bound by the thinnest of golden threads, the soul's inexplicably bound. Leashed in the cell, the whips of the holy friars scourged him as he knelt, three times a week, at dinner hour, nothing to eat but cruelty. When he finally saw Christ, He was falling toward him, His arms stretched back, coming out of their sockets for love of him. It's clear why he left Fontiveros - his love for mountains conceived by this dreary view - but no one knows how he escaped from prison. Or why love finally drove him back. Sick, he asked to be treated in Ubeda, for he knew no one would cure him, the bishop would curse him; he could die inferior, die unknown, die suffering greatly. Only love can heal us, opening our hands to a darkness that we keep trying to let go ... How happy he was, always leaping free of the cell - Fontiveros, Salamanca, Ubeda, the world - singing softly, no longer having to tear out the feathers that kept sprouting from his limbs. The Southern Review 37 [2001] p.514

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