Thursday, June 19, 2014

Scapegoat - Isaiah 53. David Rosenberg, A Literary Bible

Is there anyone to believe
what we've listened to
as we report it

who is there
who's actually seen the Lord's
arm around the shoulders

of the despised    this richness
incredible support
freely given to him

who would have believed 
seeing we were as unconscious of him
among us as a common tree

a weed tree in a lot
junk-strewn in a poor section
of the city

what could have been there
to attract us    no handsomeness
nothing to divert the eye

how could we even turn our heads 
for something so poor in our eyes
so uninspiring

he was a thing rejected
despised for being human
in an offensive suit of clothes

the clothes of suffering
a shirt of pain
a cloak of sorrow

a coat the solid color
of loss     worldly indifference
like leprosy written across his face

so densely it hurt to look
as if we'd only see
ourselves reflected in it

as in a dense layer of dust
over a window
in an ancient place we've long forgotten

we don't want to remember
we loathe that place
we despise weakness

and he meant nothing to us
a blight on our existence
we couldn't even condone his existence

but it was our
loss and our
pain he bore

our hidden fear and indifference 
he wore
openly for us

while we wrote him off as beneath us
as an example of God's vengeance
as being even our own self-vindication
 he was punished
tortured by disease
to condone our fear

hidden under a worldly cloak
thrown over our unconscious
we've swept it out of sight

we wrote it off
with the hurt and loss
as if struggle and pain

were not a human bond
a mirror in which to see

not an unreflecting
fear symbol

but he was shattered
for our heart of stone
he was locked in ghettoes

for our hidden guilt
and we are made human

in the punishment and contempt
he wears in the world
on this earth for us

in black and blue
our eyes can see it
and we are healed by that seeing

he makes us real
we were all victims
we were all sheep

we strayed     we were lost
we wandered away
lost in ourselves

we were all nations
servants of our own

we made our own selfish way
slavishly alone
each with our own patch of lust

in the unconscious pasture 
of self-indulgence
trespassers of spirit

silent accomplices of thugs
on the highway of feeling
that is the Lord's

that is his word
and the Lord has chose
his servant to carry it

a bürden of pain on his naked back
beyond power of men to lay on him
it is the guilt of us all

made real
the guilt inside us
the abyss we were losing

our richness of feeling in
and now we see how cheaply
we've papered over loss

how openly it's borne
beyond our power to pay
he was a low animal in our eyes

a carrier of disease
and we treated him
lower than dogs

but he didn't open his mouth
for bitterness
he was open to the core

he was a lamb
led to slaughter
he was an innocent sheep

as his coat is shorn from him
but he was human      he suffered
and like a lamb his mouth didn't open

out of bitterness
and he was led away
stripped of his rights

shorn of his humanity
not a shred of justice for him
not a mouth opened for him

he was deported
he was sentenced
out of existence itself

like a nation marked for death
he was led into the fire
of bitter hatred

he was led alive
into ovens     he burned
as indifferently to the world as an ordinary lamp

turned on at evening
a lamp of skin
and no one gave it thought

he was a flame
lit in the darkness of terror
he was a light

to the truly guilty 
those ho deserved to be lost
in their own land

in their own bitter darkness
in the abyss 
of their hidden guilt

my own people were blind
but his eyes were true
suffering the world for them

and the world gave him a grave
unmarked like a criminal's
like a mass grave

the way cattle are buried
the way refuse is dispose of
the way a rich man

orders cut flowers
like common flowers crushed beside the highway
he was nothing he was in the way

he was banned from sight       victimized
by a decadent justice
a worldly masquerade

of men dressed up in power
he was naked       innocent of crime
not guilty of even a common lie

but the Lord allowed him to feel
pain       to be open
to injustice as to disease

to be vulnerable as an animal 
given in spirit of sacrifice
a faith in human future

and out of that death march
through the fire
out of that holocaust

out of the deepest abyss
beyond torture and despair
out of sheer hell furnaces

he comes through
piercing through the guilt
deep fear and self-contempt

of all the world
because he gave himself whole
persistently human

transcending spears of bitterness
and for his pain
the pain of all creation

he will have children again
and he will see them
as sure as they will feel

his soul
and the deep consolation spoken
in the openness allowed

by the Lord
by his hand
through his words

through the pure insistence
to bear his words
in human hands     his servant

out of the massive depths of pain
into the daylight
of a living nation

that is his future illuminated
as real and warm as a body
lit by the color of feeling

my servant an example
lighting the steps up
from deep depression beneath the surface

a struggle for the merest foothold
in the mass of people and nations

and out of the inhuman scars the clawing 
he made his heart a vessel
out of the storm the raging

of primitive pride
he carried my justice a lightness
in his nameless heart       open

a room without walls
room for the lowest and highest
guilt     all that is borne within

and without:  the word is his
to share with the richest nations
in the present

I make his future present
and the mouths of worldly power
fall open in awe

at the beauty 
the utter reality lade bare
of life itself

because he opened his heart
totally        putting it in the hands
of death

speaking straight through a transparent life
from his soul
and his nakedness was a menace

he was judged for his skin
what is visible to the lowest
a disgrace to worms

dressed in material
of pride
a crime to those human eyes

locked up in themselves
and he was given the final clothes 
of death    dust of the earth

and he wore the deaths 
of those with murder in their hearts
and the criminal thoughts

of all in self-hating prisons
and he was stripped of his self
for sheer integrity

of the deeper language
of creation 
and he was scarred

in his openness
beyond worldly recognition
for the self-debased to see

their disease in him
and he was crushed by weight
of their hidden guilt revealed

he heard it is the creator speaking
words of life
you will survive by them

your voice: lightness of breath itself
clothe the cold and hidden
hearts of stone

and warm in the dark
the unborn      vulnerable as you were
your light into the future.