“A quiet roar” by Veronica Zundel (poem)

Ivaniuta, Maria_Crucifixion
Maria Ivaniuta (Ukrainian, 1992–), Crucifixion, 2015. Egg tempera and gold on canvas, 40 × 50 cm.

he lays his left hand along the beam
hand that moulded clay into fluttering birds*
hand that cupped wildflowers to learn their peace
hand that stroked the bee’s soft back and touched death’s sting

he stretches his right hand across the grain
hand that blessed a dead corpse quick
hand that smeared blind spittle into sight
hand that burgeoned bread, smoothed down the rumpled sea

he stands laborious
sagging, split
homo erectus, poor bare forked thing
hung on nails like a picture

he is not beautiful
blood sweats from him in rain

far off where we are lost, desert dry
thunder begins its quiet roar
the first drops startle us alive
the cloud no bigger
than a man’s hand

* According to a legend first recorded in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, when Jesus was a child he molded sparrows out of clay and then brought them to life. This episode is also referenced in the Qur’an 5:110.

This poem appears in Faith in Her Words: Six Centuries of Women’s Poetry, compiled by Veronica Zundel (Oxford: Lion Books, 1991). Used by permission of the author.

Veronica Zundel is a writer of Christian books, articles, and poetry, living in London. She was born in England in 1953 to Austrian refugee parents (her mother was Jewish) and graduated with a BA in English from Oxford University in 1975. She came to faith in a Baptist church as a teenager and spent time in the Church of England and the Mennonite Church before joining the Methodist congregation she worships with now. Her books include Crying for the Light: Bible Readings and Reflections for Living with Depression, Everything I Know about God I’ve Learned from Being a Parent, and The Lion Book of Famous Prayers, and she contributes regularly to periodicals such as New Daylight and Woman Alive.

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