ite, missa est

An embrace is what I need.

Your smile slides into an unsurprised moue

as you think I’m looking for the sly docking of

breasts and thighs and buttocks with my old-blooded hands.

Perhaps that’s there, in the mix,

Of course that’s there in the mix.

But it is only a crude mapping of the contours

of an embrace.


What I’m looking for is more, or less,

a way of holding onto what might soon be relinquished.

It is the making palpable of a feeling,

the blocking-in of emotions,

it is solid and bodily, fleeting and flowing,

a communion given and received.


An embrace is much more than the sum

of the negotiated locking of limbs.

It is a Chagall Crucifixion –

weightless and weighty,

holding up the firmament,

stretching space into the sky

to give room for entwined lovers to float

and for untamed cockerels to cry.


It puts the tangible totality of you

inside the physical and spiritual fragility of me.

Like a bare-foot prodigal

I open my arms to you and

prepare for loving or hanging,

blessing or breaking.

An embrace is finite. It has an ending.

Release, letting go, the recognition of distinction.

A dismissal, a beginning to its work

in the sending out.


2 thoughts on “ite, missa est

  1. This poem has been haunting me. The images and descriptions are startling – ‘old bloodied hands’ for example and the spiritual thread which is running through the poem is thought provoking. The poem ‘speaks’ to me in several ways and is very visual too -maybe you should paint it…or at least go to Liverpool in the summer and see the Chagall paintings in the flesh again. Id love to know more about the poem. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Hi Adrienne, thanks. Glad it resonates with you. It is ‘old-blooded’, not ‘old-bloodied’. There is a story, but that’s for another time. Maybe paint it – but again, perhaps not yet. Some of the spiritual stuff you’ll recognise from Nouwen.

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