For the Dormition of the Theotokos
Miryam in Ephesus
I am dying in Ephesus. The city is gold and white
and pink, like the flesh of fresh-caught fish
in the marketplace. The city smells of fish, of
female flesh, but the light is golden. There is
a bubble of golden light inside my withered
body that is about to break free.
John is here, and the others. Mary is here,
I think. Or I see them, in the golden light,
and think that they are, even if they are
far away. He is here, closest of all, who
has been distant so many years: My god,
my son. Here in Ephesus I learned
that I was not the only girl who gave birth
to a god. No, not alone. Dionysus came
from Semele, Herakles from Alkmene.
I wonder if their families, their neighbors
disbelieved them, too? Joseph could have
had me stoned; he was judged
for his forbearance.
John, and Mary Magdalene, and Thomas,
and Philip. Peter, and the others.
They are waiting for me to die. Waiting
for a miracle. Will I float up to heaven
like a feather on a breeze? Will I
disappear into a dazzle of golden
light? What wise last words will I
give to those who are waiting?
I see my Son, my Yeshua, shining
like the rising sun, O lux, O oriens.
And yet I also see that many-breasted
goddess by whom the city swears,
darling of the silversmiths, mistress
of the bees, virgin and mother, coming
toward me, and with her the winged one,
bearer of the sistrum, she who suckles
Horus, wife of the bearded lord. “Come,”
my Son says, “I will make of you a goddess.”
“Come,” say Isis and Artemis, “we will
teach you how to be a goddess.”
In the gold and the white and the heat and
the light, the bubble within me rises at last
and bursts. O higher than the Seraphim,
more glorious than the Cherubim, rejoice,
healing of my flesh, rejoice, salvation
of my soul, hail, Bride unbrided!