Poetry

Poetry

Disposal of the body

So Jesus’ wealthy friends did prove useful in the end.
All four narratives seem to agree on this.
Joseph, after all—the one from Arimathea, not his Dad—
Joseph pulled strings with Pilate. Did he have to call in
a few favors earned in questionable ways
so he could claim possession of the corpse?
Old Nicodemus too, Jesus’ night-shift friend from the Sanhedrin,
Nicodemus makes his own fleeting reprise,
carting along a ton—almost—of fragrant spices,
nard and myrrh (again!), for preservation purposes.
Although where he got such pricey stuff,
late on a holiday Friday afternoon, is never quite explained.
And that convenient, fresh-hewn, garden tomb;
even back in the day, sepulchres such as those
did not come ten-a-penny! Add in all the hired help
they must have needed to get stuff from here to there
and, of course, to roll and seal that massive rock . . .
Whole thing makes you wonder—doesn’t it?—
wonder if that narrow needle’s eye got prized wide open—
camel-size, at least—to accommodate these late allies.

Ritual

Holy Week and three buffleheads on the cold river
   practice the rite of baptism. Their preference:
complete immersion. Again and again they duck
and disappear into ice-cold darkness, then emerge, shaking
a zillion stars from their feathers.
                                       As if there is never enough
purification, they plunge down deep and rise and dive
and rise again.
                                      The week winds down, down
down toward Friday. Temple draperies are torn.
Darkness enfolds the earth. The dead in their stone tombs
have begun stirring as if, like the sun in the morning,
they will rise.

Ephesus

I was in love with God for one afternoon.
Twenty, alone on a beach, I dropped rocks
by the edge and watched the ocean wash
gray into blue, brown into red. An hour
of my crunching steps, the clack of pebbles,
the water’s rippling response. Never mind
invisibility. We were the only ones, and I
so intoxicating—sand-blown hair,
denim cut-offs, no reason to believe
anyone’s faith could dissolve. My prayers
were as certain as the stones I threw,
the answers as sure as the cove’s blue floor.

Lint

My teenage son gestures
towards his jacket, asks me how to clean
out pockets and I realize
he’s never had to turn
anything completely inside-out before,
never had to take something that was designed
to serve a good and useful purpose
and pull at it, tug until it’s wholly reversed
from its original fashioning so that every lost
oddment, every needless irritant is set loose
and finally it’s empty. It’s not a pocket
anymore; it can’t hold anything
but the buzzing light from the kitchen
and these softly flanneled regrets.

After reading Job

If God is my key witness,
    and ready to testify
    on my behalf while still
    fully aware of the charges
    against me, yet hoping
    I am innocent of them all,
    or most, or surely some,
    or certainly the worst;
If God is my key witness,
    then it seems strange when
    Next witness! is called
    and my chief counsel goes searching,
    that he is nowhere to be found
    and when asked, a guard admits
    he saw him leaving
    when the vesper bells began
    at St. Mary’s, saying something
    about waiting as long as he could,
    and was sure I would do just fine
    on my own, but if I should lose,
    he would send comforters
    who will stand in the cold
    at midnight with placards
    and crepe-draped crosses
    to cry out at the gates,
    Shame, Shame!