Honorable Mention: 2015 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100
About this Poet:
Diane Pacitti worked as a literature tutor and community education organiser. In 2004 she produced Guantanamo, placing her poems alongside drawings by her husband, Antonio Pacitti. After caring for her husband through his final illness, she produced a sequence of poems, three of which have appeared in an In Memoriam anthology. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Jane Martin prize adjudicated by Girton College, and Highly Commended in the Manchester Cathedral Religious Poetry Competition. The 2014 Bronte Society Creative Competition awarded her first prize in poetry. In 2015 her poems have featured alongside Antonio Pacitti’s art in Bradford Cathedral.
About this Poem:
I imagine Joseph when he is no longer part of the Biblical narrative, facing physical infirmity, impending death and the realisation that he can no longer protect those he loves. A strong, active man, he finds these experiences deeply frustrating, and yet he represents us all in these trials, because the loss of the abilities and roles that have defined our sense of self can lead to a deeper awareness of our identity in God. I use a feminine verb ‘to midwife’ to describe Joseph’s part in the story of Christ. A strong, capable man, he submits himself and accepts an enabling role, respecting the unique identities of Mary and Jesus. The incarnation of God in Jesus's birth puts Joseph in a particular relationship towards those he loves ‘Son and no son. Wife and not-wife’ and this helps him to accept that those he loves are not possessions to cling to but gifts lent by God—an insight that should inform all human relationships.\
Joseph Close to Death
The boy has gone
And now the house feels cold. I hear his words,
‘I must go into the wilderness,’ ringing out
With the certainty of the young, and I know too well
That I must go too. Our years with wood
And nails belong to the past.
The old impatience
Kicked at my heart; my muscles strained when I saw
That lone figure receding down the road,
And longed to hobble after – I, who cannot
Even stay to console his mother. And what
Am I now?
A straining lung,
A leg that teeters pain, an old man
Lumbered with a spirit that leaps and shakes
Defiant black locks. Well, that spirit
Has to prepare itself. My hardest trial
Is the laying down of strength.
That will come soon.
I will be axed from the great and terrible story
That I helped to midwife. My dropping out
Will be unnoticed, as his arrival
Bursts bright as the star of his birth. No-one will ask
When and how I died.
Son and no son,
Wife and not-wife, lover who kept
A virgin destiny, you made it easy
To leave this life. You showed me
That all I have is loaned, for in the end
The house I built,
The table that I hammered
Proved just as makeshift as the Bethlehem barn,
Or perhaps as permanent, since the gaping walls
Of the stable lasted long enough to hold
A love that always sang, even when the angels
Were no longer visible.
Copyright ©2015 Diane Pacitti