In Caravaggio’s ikon of Thomas seeing Christ
all eyes are locked to the doubter’s firm finger
poking around the torn flesh, under
the strong hand of the Carpenter. Thomas,
Apostle to our secular, mocking, murderous
new age, meeting his worst-case scenario
with the firm grit of flesh under his thumb,
that index of incarnation — incarnation, Immanuel
God is with us — under the impossible rubble,
as we claw at the unimaginable earthfall, Immanuel —
over the body of someone’s son fallen in crossfire,
in shrieking shadowlands of betrayal,
through terminal disorientation of disease, Immanuel.
Because that wound is real, the death was certain,
here, beyond reason, beyond the apocalypse
of private disasters, is something else,
is Life beyond life, beyond heartbreak,
beyond assassination, beyond the tremblor
at 3 in the afternoon, beyond the amnesiac cancer of the mind.
Here, under our finger, is faith, here is hope,
and He asks us, against the brutal heel on the locked door,
the harsh fist of imploding earth,
the shroud covered bier —
“Love one another.”
~ John Robert Lee
John Robert Lee is a writer of prose, poetry, journalism; a librarian; and a former radio and television broadcaster. His latest publications are ‘elemental: new and selected poems, 1975-2007’ ( Peepal Tree Press, 2008), ‘Sighting and other poems of faith’ (Mahanaim, 2013) and ‘Bibliography of St. Lucian Creative writing: 1948-2013’ (Mahanaim, 2013). His bibliography of Caribbean literature is available here.
This poem first appeared in ‘Sighting and other poems of faith’ (Mahanaim, 2013), and is published online with kind permission from the poet.