ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


"The Harrowing of Hell" by Sarah White

From the altarpiece of Caparosso, St. Mary’s Cathedral,
Pamplona, Spain, 1507


Naked and pale, they rise from the painting,
bent on escaping infernal shadows 

to live, saved, in a sunlit stadium
where souls gaze at God, and God at them,
until the end of Time.

Adam, Eve, Abel, Abraham and Sarah,
culled from the Torah, prepare to follow the Cross-bearer,
as if they thought His Heaven were truly their home.

Why? They are Jews, used to doubting new Messiahs
for the sake of One they’ve longed for
in anthems of anticipation.

Many spirits remained in the dim,
familiar light of the old rite
while others followed Jesus to Paradise.

Whichever their chosen religion,
one thing is certain:
Something harrowing happened.


Sarah White's writing and art have appeared frequently in Offcourse, most recently in Issue #65, "The Egg with a Crown in It".
Her most recent published works are “The Unknowing Muse” (Dos Madres, 2014) and “Wars Don’t Happen Anymore” (Deerfield Editions, 2015). A former Professor of French, she lives, writes, and paints on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

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