The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

‘Choice wine saved until now’

Posted by Ron George on April 10, 2017

(This came by way of a birthday present, a book of poetry from and by a longtime friend. No guarantees, but I found it moving and asked permission to publish it here. Seems a fit reflection for Holy Week. Best read aloud, pondered in silence. Most of all, enjoyed. REG)

Abramic Covenant II (Genesis15:17), by Wayne Forte

Wedding Song, by Nancy Gibson

I see him now –

old Abram asleep in the dread darkness

drained from all-day flinging up toward heaven

arms stained red and nails bloodied black

chasing birds of prey

off sticky emblems of sacrifice

in the midst of terror fiery illumination:

a covenant son seeded in song

trudged the awful mount without any reprieve

and because from the beginning

death was mounted like flint on his brow

at the drop of a word water would turn into wine

so do you

embrace the cross before you for the joy of it

for your sons of laughter

flowering only and always from desert loins

clasp and cleave in covenant death

here at the altar of immolation

here at the altar of blessed poverty of spirit

(it’s not in me, Lord, to know how to love –

I am Sarai, but You make fruitful)

so do you pass among death one for the other,

choice wine saved until now

drain the cup

drink the joy-death

(are you able to drink from the same cup as I?)

settle it now once and for all

set your face like flint toward Mount Moriah

and remember to chase your birds of prey

off your sacrifice


so that at the drop of a word your ordinary water

winks into an extravaganza

of 180 gallons of the best


get wineskins

worthy for the preserving of this wine

new wineskins are freshly dead:

Wedding at Cana, by He Qi

such was the wise starlight insight

the showing forth of death at the center of things

the finding of a dionysiac feast renewed

the dying god myth revined and branching with Isaacs

that the three found in the Child of Promise

ever since the flaming torch and smoking oven

passed among covenant death with pagan Abram

(and he simply asleep with death steaming up from the ground)

(it’s not in me, Lord, to know how to sire faith –

I am Abram, but you make faithful)

God the initiator has surprisingly plunged

every millstone purification jar

of our own making

fast into the waters of death

so that life could emerge heady and strong

from His own blood-filled shining cup

so please for God’s sake

don’t put this new wine into old wineskins –

Canaan wine from grapes so lavish

that a single cluster must be pole-carried by two men,

lushness from the nubbed Vine –

die and die and die again

and keep drinking

the superabundance of the God of wine,

Who wholly knew that joy is the first and last thing

Who shows up at weddings and changes everything

Who signs to us His glory –

water into wine, law into grace,

stone into flesh, death into life –

two into one –

for the joy of it.

(From Singing Stones, by Nancy Gibson, (c) 2003)


2 Responses to “‘Choice wine saved until now’”

  1. Anonymous said

    Thanx Ron for another challenging message, just right for poetry month..There were so many images and metaphors and scriptural references I could scarcely ingest it all…The Cana picture and the references to wine, new skins and the rest continue to intrigue me.. Oh for the eyes and mind of a POET..

  2. Jim Abbott said

    Yes! Thank you!
    I wish my poems were that good. I am not even in the same league, perhaps she is from another planet, the one where words come alive and dance and drink and show us how to live.

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