High Priest

Poetry By Brandon Marlon

The Breast Plate of Judgement

Rising crusty-eyed from his layered pallet,
he laves visage and beard in a alabaster basin
of spring water, soughing benisons
for his soul’s restoration, for the gift of more life.

With the aid of attendants he garbs himself
in strata of attire: fine linen tunic, blue robe
fringed with bells and pomegranates,
ephod apron, girdle, engraved onyx epaulets,
begemmed Breastplate of Judgment,
miter, inscribed gold headband.
He greets the morn freshly appareled,
imbued with meaning and purpose,
determined to fulfill hereditary responsibilities.

In the Holy Temple overlooking Jerusalem
he oversees punctilious lustrations and oblations,
sacred in matter and manner.

With a keen eye he inspects the fitness of vessels,
numbering oil cruses and ampullae of wine and water,
supervising the priestly shifts and harmonizing Levites
whose harpers strum and whose choristers chant
orisons ascending the heights,
hymns to the monad deity, the ineffable Oneness
uniting humankind and all of Creation.

Upon the enflamed inner altar he sprinkles
a pinch of incense, wide-eyed as a spiral of smoke
curls and drifts across consecrated chambers,
relaying aromatic myrrh and frankincense
throughout the edifice of limestone and gold.

Between regimented services and meals
he surveys the capital’s verdant environs,
labyrinthine lanes, abodes of beige, white, and pink.

He has acquitted himself dutifully, meticulously,
performing his ceremonial role to stablish
the prescribed rites, supplicating and sacrificing
on the nation’s behalf so that the divine subvenes
the onerous woes and burdens of his people.