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For Advent

He became Himself an object for the senses…
O taste and see…
 –Psalm 34:8

1. Carnem, caro, carnis

Or carne asada, a kind of word becoming flesh and
a thinly sliced marinated
beef steak—salted, soaked in
lime juice with spices, and
seared off on a grill. The kind you get from
a street vendor in Mexico or a taqueria
in a barrio in the U. S. where
there’s little to no
English spoken and they only accept cash.
Which is boisterous, also. And
so full of common life like
grime, cerveza and La Cucaracha.
And the cooks wear hair nets or
not. And the men are all weathered and
sweaty and wearing their dew rags—there is
no beauty that we should desire any of them. But
nightly, inside, it has the remarkable feel of

2. Carnelevare

a carnival—Old Fr. meaning “to remove
meat,” to cut it away, or
quite literally, carnis + levare, “a raising of
the flesh,” from which we get
the word. As if to say there’s always a curious
inconsistency equally in the pain of being
cut to the bone and in
our own revelry. As if we can’t forget
the bad when there’s
good, the indifferent in importance, sorrow in
the joy of it. Though we try to
separate them. O Lord, we try to grow content
with measured time, but we want
the final, sovereign Yes, and not this
man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. We want
what is not yet—this constant what is
and what is to come—the last without
the first, which is a cutting, of sorts: to cut

3. *(S)ker-

short. To cut—to carve. As in a cut of meat:
rib roast, roast turkey or goose
for a Christmas feast. Or a cutting of
God, or Christ taken,
or removed, from God. And what would the butcher
say if asked for a loin of holiest God?
Would he say, “The butchering is still
some time away? Come again Good Friday—” Or, instead,
Tis the season. Try the Lamb. It’s fresh.”
For he was cut off out of the land of the living
God just yesterday.

4. Skera, scheren

And sheared. Which is another kind of cutting.
There are so many kinds:
against the grain, a break, a rug, down
or down to size; from the same cloth,
a wide swath, some slack, the cord, the crap;
to cut to ribbons, a throat, corners; to cut in
or out, to cut the mustard; to cut away or
both ways—so many ways to take
our portion.

Therefore divide Him as a portion

5. *Skaro-, schar

among the many—our share. To share. And find
him, of course, as a
stranger and invite him in; in the Epiphany, yes, but also
in the toys small children drop into
your shoes when you’re not looking and are off
now to something more important, as,
soon, you will be too. In the camaraderie had
in a bad meal: if not the food—at least the spark of
good it still aspired to or in the laughter at each other’s
grimacing faces. In the absences
this side of Ascension: in the
many stricken and afflicted, see all the little
flames hovering around. And in the cuts, see
meat for a feast. To be savored. For today, take. And eat.

First published in issue 89.1, Spring 2015, of Prairie Schooner.