Friday, December 20, 2013

"Innocents"

I used to sleep well. Like any working man, a carpenter lives by sweat. Then the dreams started. A flame-eyed figure said my betrothed's stomach swelled not with a bastard, but a ruler, the very son of YAH.

The next time came words of warning: Flee, for a mad king was coming. Later I learned every male child in the hamlet had died.

Finally, the figure said to return home in safety. Still I cannot sleep. YAH kills and makes alive, blessed be His name. But all those sword-pierced sons for my boy? What work must be reserved for him?



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10 comments:

Loren Eaton said...

Marginal Notes

"Innocents" is based on the Gospel of Matthew's account of Christ's birth and focuses particularly on Joseph's role in the narrative; see Matthew 1:18-2:15.

... but a ruler, the very son of YAH. A poetic form of Yahweh; see Song of Songs 8:6.

YAH kills and makes alive ... See Deuteronomy 32:39.

Davin Malasarn said...

Wow, this one is fantastic. It builds all the way to the last line.

Phil W said...

Yes, this is stirring. What work is reserved for his son? Mercy. Thanks for writing.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

Nice. For some reason I'm reminded of Marilynne Robinson's obsession with the mothers holding up their children as the world gets flooded and Noah sails away in Homecoming. Very much like.

Ken Roach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

After so much Lovecraft, I was hoping for a post like this and you definitely delivered. Great job!

Loren Eaton said...

Davin: Thanks! It was a bit of clutch story, but I'm cautiously pleased with it.

Phil: Mercy, indeed -- and I'm glad.

CR: One of these days, I need to read me some Robinson.

Tony: Glad you liked it. Honestly, I'm a bit burnt out on Lovecraft right now. Ready to be done.

D / DM said...

This is chilling, Loren. Amazing.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

Here are a couple of samples. First, I can't count the metaphysical twists in this brief passage from near the end of Housekeeping:

“Imagine a Carthage sown with salt, and all the sowers gone, and the seeds lain however long in the earth, till there rose finally in vegetable profusion leaves and trees of rime and brine. What flowering would there be in such a garden? Light would force each salt calyx to open in prisms, and to fruit heavily with bright globes of water–-peaches and grapes are little more than that, and where the world was salt there would be greater need of slaking. For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing–-the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again.”

Or, my favorite passage from the same novel, the description of a flood that engulfs the main town, Fingerbone:

“During those days Fingerbone was strangely transformed. If one should be shown odd fragments arranged on a silver tray and be told, "That is a splinter from the True Cross, and that is a nail paring dropped by Barabbas, and that is a bit of lint from under the bed where Pilate's wife dreamed her dream," the very ordinariness of the things would recommend them. Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars the mutable, and finally has come to look and not to buy. So shoes are worn and hassocks are sat upon and finally everything is left where it was and the spirit passes from the ground as if there were no other pleasure in the world but brown leaves, as if it would deck, clothe, flesh itself in flourishes of dusty brown apple leaves, and then drops them all in a heap at the side of the house and goes on. So Fingerbone, or such relics of it as showed above the mirroring waters, seemed fragments of the quotidian held up to our wondering attention, offered somehow as proof of their own significance. But then suddenly the lake and the river broke open and the water slid away from the land, and Fingerbone was left stripped and black and warped and awash in mud."

Gilead had even more of an effect on me when I read it, but it's been so long since then that I can't remember passages off the top of my head.

Chestertonian Rambler said...

Ah, here's one quote from Gilead that might be close to your Middle Shelf heart, in its wry satire:

“I've developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books.”