Update on the Last Judgment
There will be no deafening noise. No hornblow of thunder.
The small plants of the earth will not tremble on the hillside as grace is prepared.
The sky will neither drown us in its plenty, nor the ground crack and consume feet in its hunger.
No, bodies will not, in their last rags of flesh, creep from under the earth, and with breath once torn from them, choke and expel the old mud of the world.
Adam and Eve, incredulous, will not embrace again in their poverty, not knowing whether to shield themselves, or to emerge shameless from the past’s shadow—astonished to again greet terra firma.
The book of the world, encrusted with deep-sea pearls and the blood of the lamb, will not open up its pages in which all deeds have been inscribed.
And the totality of history will not roll back together, all events fusing, once and for all, into the great blazing sphere of time.
None will sit on the right hand. There will be no right hand.
And the figure of sorrow and grace, with his staff upright, his purple pennant caught in that final wind, will not be there to greet us, with the mercy of justice in his eyes.
No, never Judgment. Just the abyss into which all acts are thrown down, and the terrible white silence in which judgment either endures or burns.
From Update on the Descent, by Ellen Hinsey. Copyright 2009. Used by permission.
ELLEN HINSEY, J85, has authored three books of poetry and contributed to the New York Times, The New Yorker, the Irish Times, Die Welt, and The Paris Review. Her latest collection, Update on the Descent, grew out of her research at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague.