Mappa Mundi

The Rev. Rachel Mann

21 December 2016

Mappa Mundi


'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.

©Rachel Mann

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