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Lazarus 

After four days in the cave, Lazarus
mistook the face of his Savior
for a loaf of bread,
the hands that had raised him
for goblets.
He did not see his sister Martha
longing for a man she would never wed,
craving to smell the skin of another,
to feel the thorns of his beard.

Magdalene, with hennaed hair
that had dried prayers from Jesus’ feet,
her hands scented of spikenard,
lips painted with calling men to bed,
was the only one Lazarus recognized.
He saw the falling away of her shoulder,
the dark coins of her nipples
through her linen dress, the tangle of hair
between her hips.

He wanted
to taste sweat of other men on her lips,
to smell beneath her hem.
He saw that to live was to sin,
that even his sisters were temptation.
In that moment, he turned
into the cave again, knowing his flesh
called for darkness.

  • A poem by Christiaan Sabatelli.

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