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Poetry

When they heard from his friend, the woman,
that he’d escaped the cave, they’d already
forgotten how Lazarus once had come out
at his command, although they protested,
fearing he’d bear some unholy perfume
that would make fools of all who saw
the miracle. That dead man, sweet as clean
laundry, even ate some dinner, showing how lively
he really was, although he’d surely have to
die again someday. But on this hollow

morning, still feeling like losers after the big
game, his friends, besides missing his whole
person—the way he walked beside them
and told stories that made them scratch
their heads as they sweated in the dust, hungry
and thirsty, but still wanting to be part
of the team with such a captain. He was so
full of something victorious, thrilling, heavy
as a mysterious net after long, dark hours
with nothing. So they listened to the woman

as she babbled like a child or person with a demon
inside. No, they later said, it wasn’t madness,
but like a woman who suddenly found something
she thought she’d lost forever. It took time
for them to believe her, they said, and to believe
in him, alive, but living in some other way, unholy
and holy at the same time. It even took a while for
Paul, that fierce tentmaker they resented at first, who
knew how to turn plain words into lightning-trees,
burning but not consumed. He made them think

Moses was back, and Elijah, too, fiery chariot
and all. Then the whole procession of them,
prophets not just predicting, but witnessing.
Was it all true, now, and soon to come? No.
It was time to get busy and dead themselves,
some of them killed, and now for us to come along,
waiting and doing and dying as long as it takes.


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