The One True Image (For Cyril of Alexandria)

If any one confess not, that the Word of God the Father hath been personally united to Flesh, and that He is One Christ with His own Flesh, the Same (that is) God alike and man, be he anathema.
(Cyril of Alexandria, Adversus Nestorii Blasphemias)
Icon contained in an icon, he holds
A picture of the Virgin and Child
Beside his chin as if to show
A symbol of his pride and joy;
And then in his lowered left hand,
He holds an open, unfolding scroll,
The words of truth spilling out,
An open truth for open ears.
And Nestor falls behind the screen,
The Bishop whose hands could not hold
The equal truths of God and Man, who
Holding one, would drop the other,
Letting go of God-made-man,
And taking in its place a God
Merely clad in human clothes,
Without mother, without real flesh.
Yet Cyril holds the picture to
Guide our eyes back to the truth,
Though human eyes cannot quite see
And human minds not comprehend:
Hold it! he cries, though heavy and
Confusing. Do not let it fall
From your weak, appeasing grip.
And then that stern, repeating cry,
Be he anathema! – cried to those
Who look away and do not see
That God, in whose great image we
Are made (though far and farther from
Who we should be), became a man,
And with his new transfigured flesh
We too might be transfigured so
That mortal temples might have life.
The icon stands, imperfect and
A slight distraction from the truth.
Yet in the sternness of his eyes,
We see what Cyril longs to say,
That broken images can be remade,
That Word-made-flesh can turn our flesh,
As soiled and torn as it is,
Back to the true image of God.

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