So that things contrary to common sense Seem suddenly truth revealed And some unappealing sight Is clearly Imago Dei, devilishly alight As though lit within at core By the very darkness we abhor And symbols of my soul’s best hope are cast As models of betrayal, despair and death; Then, Eve’s fruit tasted and offered to Adam Becomes Mary’s Gift as First Fruit Of a new covenant of pardon And the abandoned Garden Because of Him Becomes the New Jerusalem;
So, let that mind be also in me, The one that takes in my off-stage acts, You know, Those walk-the-walk naked facts, Even my sneaky judas-pacts And transforms them all Into something nothing short of new, Like being born, Like out of any godforsaken Friday Easter morn.
If God is my key witness, and ready to testify on my behalf while still fully aware of the charges against me, yet hoping I am innocent of them all, or most, or surely some, or certainly the worst; If God is my key witness, then it seems strange when Next witness! is called and my chief counsel goes searching, that he is nowhere to be found and when asked, a guard admits he saw him leaving when the vesper bells began at St. Mary’s, saying something about waiting as long as he could, and was sure I would do just fine on my own, but if I should lose, he would send comforters who will stand in the cold at midnight with placards and crepe-draped crosses to cry out at the gates, Shame, Shame!
I often arrive at a boundary that leaves me at the gate at a time to fish or cut bait or just wait at the border of this or that for better or worse perform or rehearse begin again or end— on my mark to there, at the finish from where.
And that’s when I need some now-or-never word, as when Jesus sat with the woman at the well waiting for a snarl of men to stone her, and reach out to her writing something in the sand for her for them and wrote again, then spoke his boundary-breaking words piercing to the bone that would kill their will and let them all go home.
Christ lives in my unchosen life, resident In the upright ashes of these brittle bones, Mapping blood routes and checking airways, Catching the breaking news in my nerves,
Ever exploring under wrinkling tissue skin For portal throughout my temporal universe, Arriving at last behind these old searching eyes And, through haunting blur, giving vision to wings
Of candle flames fluttering about the altar’s cross As pipes, chimes and steeple bells ring, resonate And indwell, bidding me, familiar beggar at table, To take bread and wine like a taster for the king.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).