Since I stole your money, Philemon, and even more, myself, the body
that broke earth and stacked stones at daybreak while you slept,
you have every right to lash me till the whites of my intestines show,
brand FUG on my forehead, or throw me to the lions, who love especially
the taste of escaped slaves, our blood sweet with freedom’s fleeting breath.
But Paul, wild-eyed with Christ, has washed down his prison walls
with prayer. He knows you will take me back, not a slave, but a brother
delivering koinonia to your congregation in this present evil age, teaching
how to pray paralytics into motion and how to sleep in peace
when soldiers sharpen swords outside your windows. Paul calls me his son, no—
his very heart. I am no longer your body but will reside in yours,
pump forgiveness and prayer through your veins. I will make you
see Christ in every jangling harlot and rotting, leprous face.
I will make you a slave to God’s bidding.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.