'What rough beast...slouches towards Bethlehem...?'
Elsewhere a king is fed grapes,
fat as globes, wondering how
it would feel to swallow
the world in a single gulp.
An emperor savours the scent
of honeysuckle, studies his elegant
hands, marvels at their power to condemn,
compel, free. Indulges his greatest truth:
I am a god.
Men and women kiss, curse, cry, and spit,
dream of riding eagle's wings.
Somewhere a child lifts his head
watches wild horses run, certain
his legs would carry him
to the birthplace of the moon.
Here a mouth opens,
thirsty to receive.
The girl stares down at it,
as if at a puzzle, shocked if this is the answer,
stares in terror and wonder at what she has done.
Image Large Magellanic Cloud, Hubble Heritage Team
The Rev. Rachel Mann is an Anglican parish priest, poet, writer, musician and broadcaster. She is Poet-in-Residence and a Minor Canon at Manchester Cathedral, UK. She is a contributor to our Moments page.
Mappa Mundi has previously been published in ‘A Star-Filled Grace’: Glasgow, Wild Goose Publications 2015