Who curses now as heaven comes too close?
Ask Isaac on the altar who submits.
He tastes the bitter in his sacred dose.

The pioneering first wife we suppose,
who dodges her destruction and permits…
She curses now as heaven comes too close.

The third and on who drowned when waters rose
to baptize Mother Earth, who chomped at bits—
they tasted bitter in their sacred dose.

We same, we in-between, we apropos
of nothing—prayed away where power sits—
we all curse now as heaven comes too close.

And I, who hear not still nor small, but gross,
a voice forbidding love, constraining splits,
I taste alone the sacred in my dose.

O Father, did you hide in gilt repose
far from Golgotha, spared the piercing blitz?
Did Christ’s thorn-festooned crown rise up too close?
Did you, perfected, shrink before that dose?

Poet’s Notes:

This poem draws on two addresses from 20th century Mormonism:

  • Truman G. Madsen, in his lecture, “The First Vision and Its Aftermath“, gave this depiction of a preacher reacting to Joseph Smith’s vision: “His response was instantly, ‘Oh no, that could not be of God. Those sort of things don’t happen anymore.’ …the answer seemed to this man too much. Heaven came too close.”
  • Elder Melvin J. Ballard, in his address “The Sacramental Covenant“, said this of Elohim reacting to Jesus’s crucifixion as it occurred: “In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even he could not endure it any longer… so he bowed his head, and hid in some part of his universe…”

Image of Jeanne d’Arc having a vision courtesy the New York Public Library.