Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Cavern Without Explanation

Night-flowering Cactus

—Thomas Merton
I know my time, which is obscure, silent and brief

For I am present without warning one night only.

When sun rises on the brass valleys I become serpent.

Though I show my true self only in the dark and to no man

(For I appear by day as serpent)

I belong neither to night nor day.

Sun and city never see my deep white bell

Or know my timeless moment of void:

There is no reply to my munificence.

When I come I lift my sudden Eucharist

Out of the earth's unfathomable joy

Clean and total I obey the world's body

I am intricate and whole, not art but wrought passion

Excellent deep pleasure of essential waters

Holiness of form and mineral mirth:

I am the extreme purity of virginal thirst.

I neither show my truth nor conceal it

My innocence is described dimly

Only by divine gift

As a white cavern without explanation.

He who sees my purity

Dares not speak of it.

When I open once for all my impeccable bell

No one questions my silence:

The all-knowing bird of night flies out of my mouth.

Have you seen it? Then though my mirth has quickly ended

You live forever in its echo:

You will never be the same again.