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© 2012 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt #131: Unexpectedly, Love. Be ready for some LONG process notes ahead.
This prompt caused me to think about love — a selfless act of love, specifically — and I had a little help thinking about the subject from this post on the analyfe blog. The alabaster box she referenced in her post made me think of the three women who are chronicled in the Gospels as anointing Jesus with perfume from an alabaster box — two unnamed women and one identified as Mary of Bethany, a sister of Lazarus. If you consider the sacrifice of the act in both the breaking of the box and the act of anointing, you understand why this inspired me for this week’s poem. It also caused me to ask myself a very hard question: can I love that freely with that much abandonment of self? It is a hard question indeed that I still need to answer.
I also ended up weaving in strains of romantic love — King Solomon slain in his heart by a pretty face or a jeweled ankle. I think maybe some of this is carryover from my recent readings of Lord Byron, a fellow Romantic (both in the sense of the literary movement to which he belonged and his personality). And of course, what is the connection between King Solomon and the alabaster box? Spikenard, which was in the box and was used by the female speaker in Song of Songs in the Bible (although some translations render the word as simply “perfume”).
This poem began first as a prose poem. I turned the raw poem into a cleave, and then I realized it could merge together at a certain point. Once I had finished merging the poem, it became a shape poem — oddly enough, in the form of a grail. To me, this hearkens back to imagery of the Holy Grail — in the sense of a literal cup which caught the blood of Jesus, the cup filled with wine at the Last Supper, and the womb, with the grail being a reference itself to female fertility, or Mary Magdalene (interestingly enough, in some traditions, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany are regarded as one and the same).
For now, I hope you enjoyed the poem.