Creed

Maryann Corbett

When I haul my carcass up from my creaking knees
to mumble the old form
(stubbing my tongue on the brick of a new translation) humble me, Lord, to accept the awkward history
of these your mysteries,
a plotline tangled as the morning news, a bitterness in the mouth. First, Constantine,
pig-headed in the face of disagreement,
yelling ‘Impious fool!’ And Athanasius, wily, on the run,
a glamorous bandit, sending in his thugs
to rile up orthodox riot. Councils, anathemas, excommunications,
exiles. Seventy years of holy terror,
the violent bearing it away: a street mob in fourth-century Alexandria
wild with joy at the news
that the Emperor Constantius lay dead, which left them free to haul out their Arian bishop
and bash him to bloody pulp
to proclaim the Son homoousios with the Father. Yes, in the end they faded away, the Arians—
those pie-eyed optimists, certain
sheer, plodding will could make a man divine—a lovely notion, dodgy-sounding now
with barbarian tribes at the border
and falling across the empire, shadows of doubt.

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Maryann Corbett is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Street View, from Able Muse Press. She is a past winner of the Richard Wilbur Award and the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. One of her poems will appear in The Best American Poetry 2018.

PN Review

May / June 2018

Manchester
England

General Editor
Michael Schmidt

Deputy Editor
Andrew Lattimer

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