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The King of All Creation

 

The King of All Creation
The Book of Tobit

The demon Asmodeus swept the sky
all ownership and prowess, casting through
each curtain of wind, cresting toward the maiden’s bower.

“I am the king of all creation, I am the high-rise
towering over the tenements! I am the mighty
Asmodeus, conqueror, seducer, deepest shadow
of the strongest light, widower, crucible,
biggest bubble in the soaphouse, bug of bugs!”

Swifter than an accidental fart, he cruised
into the house, the site of all his conquests,
boasting: “Here I laid them low before,
the seven bridegrooms of this maid’s despair,
and here I find another! How little of me
they know, I who plunder, I who take,
I who demand each last draught of nectar
and least wind-breath of perfume suffer
to pass my scabby lips and linger
in my toying hands, filthy and fat, hung
with the reek of my achievements!
This one, like the others, will be mine–”

Poised at the threshold he beheld
a figure like the whiteness at the center
of a flame, bright as a lily’s cup,
who would not be compelled to mourn
but smiled as befit a wedding day.

“Raphael, you think you can deny me?
Didn’t you guard the others so, and still
their mounds pepper the yard like warts!
I am welcomed in the selfish eye’s least light,
I am Asmodeus, I am flesh, I am seated
at the heart of the body! Make way,
I enter in, I take what cannot be returned–

Pfagh! The stench! Who told you
to burn camel’s hair? The upturned lilies
blossoming, their nectar and perfumes–”
And so with galled eyes stinging, cried out
in disgust and fled back to the desert
where Saint Raphael caught and bound him.

Like apricot skin against the teeth
the fish parts clung to the pouch’s wall
when the bridegroom caught them out.
They spat on the censer, and the oily cloud
hung in the top parts of the room. Tobias,
to escape, prostrated with his bride
and thankfully protested that their tryst
was made unalloyed, no foul meeting
of thoughtless flesh, but an offering
pure and praiseworthy, a clean oblation
to the Lord of heaven and earth.

That was the bargain from the start:
to follow lust into its turning grave
or scorn the body’s lordship,
casting it low to the level of its dignity–
to ask no more than it could give
and to accept with gladness all it offered
at its own reach of splendor.

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Daniel Hyland

Daniel Hyland

Daniel is a Catholic writer and voice artist living in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and daughter. He believes in the power of beauty in life, nature and art as a tool of evangelism, and seeks to follow Christ through study, work and prayer. His favorite book of the Bible is the Song of Songs because of the stunning intimacy it presents both with regard to the sacrament of marriage and the marital union with God to which every soul is called in Christ. He is the proud owner of a small collection of facial hair, charitably termed a mustache.