Forma – a poem by Chase Padusniak


“Now mark the truth of this figure.” – Jan van Ruusbroec

Patted and clapped in primeval
Un-time, before memories of good
Or ill, like the great ivoried remains of
A pterodactyl, or the half-known unclad bars of
Homo erectus. So are each of us, known before
Knowing ourselves.

Some delight in this un-knowing. Some 
Puzzle over prior facts. But this forming
Does not depend, hangs on a central point,
A burning love exceeding wildest desire, un-
Pointed, but fathomless flowing out and filling,
Bubbling over.

“If you hate your enemy, you are damned […] You should not despise, oppress, judge, nor condemn anyone […] Despise yourself, judge yourself, damn yourself.” – Jan van Ruusbroec

What to do? On the damnedest days,
Darkness spreads in the mind’s sky
And blots out one memory, stokes
Another, unleashing a deluge of burning
Malice, envy, sadness, hatred, rage-filled,
Unabashed self-ness.

Falsity in guise of selfless penance
Flags itself by the fruits of such an overripe,
Rot-branch tree. In knowing our un-knowing—
So we outline this form, shadowed around
This same-self, and, thereby, grow, prosper,
Un-see sins.

Chase Padusniak is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s English department, where he specializes in late medieval mystics like Julian of Norwich, Marguerite Porete, and Jan van Ruusbroec. He is an associate editor at Macrina Magazine; his poetry and prose have appeared in Soft CartelChurch Life JournalComitatus, Augustinian Studies, Athwart, as well as the edited collectionSlavoj Žižek and Christianity (Routledge 2019), among other outlets. Twitter and Instagram: @ChasePadusniak

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