The invention of theology

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Very recently I had the privilege of assisting with the obsequies of Keith Bosley. Shortly before his death a new collection of his verse appeared, The wedding guest. The book came out at the wake and fell open to this poem, this short and vast masterpiece, typically  backhanded.

Mindful of the season in which we recall Οὗτος ἀφικόμενος ἐξ οὐρανῶν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν διὰ τὸν πάσχοντα I offer this gem as greeting to the reader, as a memorial to the writer, as a thanks to Keith’s family, and to all as an encouragement to read the work of a master of his craft.

AFIKOMEN

At the end
of the Passover meal
the leader takes
a piece of matzo

set aside earlier
breaks it and hands it round
to signify
the paschal lamb

which is why
Jews are discouraged
from eating lamb
at this meal

then he pours out
the last cup of wine
for all present
plus Elijah

who has his own chair
should he come in
through the door
opened for him

to announce
the Messiah
but centuries ago
barbarians burst in

stood the bloodless rite
upon its head
and invented
theology.

(April 2001)

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