Friday, March 18, 2011

Eighteen-armed black Kalis

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico (my favorite painting)

Religious Consolation

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple,  A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

John Updike


  1. I'll be back to post a comment once I've revived myself from having fainted after reading this poem.

    "Holy" shit and wow.
    Thank you for that, Elizabeth, and happy weekend.

  2. (ah, I got to you on my blog roll before I got to the almanac :)

  3. That just gives me the shivers.

  4. Where did I just read this? I wanted to post it but forgot.
    You did it instead.
    I should have known you would.



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