Wiseblood Books

The Sacred Heart of St. Joseph

Jonathan McDonald

1. Canticum
As a youth, St. Joseph is foretold in a dream of his marriage to the Theotokos.

I dreamed a dream one week ago,
That the moon, the sun, the stars, would bow to me,
Like a wife to the will of her lord,
Like a son to his father,
Like a slave to his master.
And I was
cut to the bone,
weak in my knees,
churned in belly,
trembling in hand,
plucked in sinew.
I told my dream to my brother
in confidence,
and he shared the shame of my heart to my father and mother and brothers,
and they mocked me.
Am I a man or a boy,
that I should weep at every hurt?
that I should recoil at every touch?
that I should pluck out my eyes at every disagreeable vision?
What happened to your strength, oh man?
I am the first to read the scriptures in the home,
the loudest to chant the psalms in the synagogue,
the most generous in my sacrifices at the temple,
and yet I am
empty.
My colored coat of prayers does not warm me at night.
I am counted among them that go down into the pit,
betrayed by his brothers
to the hands of the Gentiles
and the land of strange sands and sphinxes.
But in my dreams the star of the sea
—she on whose lap Leviathan lays his head
like a unicorn with a maiden—
bows to me,
slender as Sarah, resplendent as Rebekah, strong-eyed as Rachel.
Virgin, maiden, sister,
whose breasts are not yet grown,
I would be your wall,
and you like a tower of silver within.
You will conceive and bear a son,
and I will call him out of Egypt,
for that is where I live,
far from my family,
away from home,
sold on discount,
to a king who
worships
Ra.
Be
Asenath,
black but
beautiful, and
let your hair fall
all around my body.
Speak “fiat” to me, my love,
open to me, my dove, my undefiled,
and I will open my heart to you, this heart of nerves.
Our love will level mountains and fill in valleys,
to make straight crooked ways.
Until then my heart is pierced
with the sword of betrayal,
of disappointment,
of calumny,
of pride.

2. Diligam te, Domine

He joins the Zealots in adulthood.

Hurrah, hurrah!
The nations will crawl,
From heathen domains,
To purchase our grain.
We’ll shatter their knees,
And steal Caesar’s keys,
For power and dominion,
O’er Samael’s kingdom!

Hurrah, hurrum!
Let’s rap the drum,
That Ichabod stole,
From the Roman patrol,
And bury the head,
Of Tiberias dead,
At Mount Sion’s foot,
And we’ll mock with salutes.

Hurrah, hurray!
Let’s make them beg,
For birds plucked and carved,
While their bellies starve.
Our God is a lion,
Devouring Rome’s scions.
When soldiers debark,
They’re burned by the Ark!

Hurrah, hurroh!
My heart is a stone,
Smashing the nose,
Crushing the toes,
Filling the earth,
Grinding out mirth,
Whipping at ease,
Burying peace.

3. Epithalamion

His heart is made perfect in marriage.

The nuptial chamber of my bride is chaste,
Thus I do not touch my sister, my wife.
My heart pounds strong, yet she bides unembraced,
By grey-haired arms so late now revived.
Our progeny will fill the earth, my moon,
You unweeping Hannah, who needed not,
A mewling babe to fill your vowed womb,
But love’s as strong as life, child, and as hot.
Your angel came to me tonight, and spake:
“Bring Mary and the child to Egypt dry.”
There will I find healing for my mistake,
Receiving homage from the starry sky.
To adore and be adored, by his heart,
You the quick doe and I the mountained hart.

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