The Apocalypse

"We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child."         

                                     From Knoxville: Summer, 1915, James Agee's preface                                        to his novel, A Death in the Family




An apocalypse (Ancient Greekἀποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning 'un-covering'), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, hidden from humanity in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation, although this sense did not enter English until the 14th century.[1] In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.  - From Wikipedia, the  on line encyclopedia 




Speaking from personal experience, I believe that most of us remain disguised to ourselves not only in childhood, but probably up until the moment of death.


Who among us can really answer the seemingly simple question, "Who am I?"

I can't.  I can describe my history, my appearance, work, relationships and the roles I've played, my beliefs, hopes, etc.  But the fundamental question of who I essentially am remains veiled.  I have no answer. 

I haven't been a child for a long time, but I'm still "disguised to myself."  My essential self remains hidden, secret, undisclosed. 

 I'm fairly certain that the people I've loved also remained disguised to themselves whilst on this earthly plane, limited, as we all are, by our five relatively dull senses and confined to a mundane, three dimensional realm.


 But when my mother died, at the very moment of her death, her face took on a glowing radiance.  There was an intense inward gaze and joyful recognition in her eyes.


I believe that her inner light was unveiled and she finally saw that it was good.

I think about my mother a lot.  I wrote this poem, The Apocalypse,  to her on February 10th.  It strikes me as an odd coincidence that an old acquaintance from long ago wrote me recently, and his language in correspondence was uncannily like the language of my poem.

There is a Sanskrit proverb:  "All seeming coincidences, when traced to their origins, are seen to have been inevitable."  

I doubt there are any accidents.  I post this for my acquaintance from long ago, for my mother, and for anyone else who drops by Dogwood Daughter.  

On the eve of the wan, wintry solstice

At 7:37 p.m.

Your eyes opened very wide and seemed to gaze inward


Your face had the look of a small child, delighted and surprised to open a momentous gift

And for less than an instant, I glimpsed your inner lamp


The light you had labored so long to conceal

Even from yourself, was fleetingly and radiantly unveiled


Then you were gone, leaving no trace of yourself in the empty carapace

Lying withered amongst the crumpled sheets of the institutional bed


The anemic moon trembled

And I laughed like a mad woman

Standing among the frozen cars in the parking lot

A solitary figure in a fractured snow globe


Suddenly dizzy as the globe churned

I thrust my arms outward, flailing

but found nothing to hold on to save the icy snow and outer darkness


I was

slipping, falling, sinking, calling

"Oh God, please help me!  Please help me now."


And bathed in the thin white milk of the gauzy moon

I was born again,

Baptized by crystalline waters of snow and tears

On the longest night of the year


Home again, I sat with your ghost

On the couch, in the living room

In the gossamer glow of TV and Christmas tree lights


We laughed and laughed

You and I

(we couldn't stop)

like two old soldiers

After a long battle is finally won


You sighed, with relief

And I crowed like a rooster:

"Aha!  So THIS is the Apocalypse!"


Be Well and Good Luck,

Martha Maria 


Leave a comment

Add comment