Lazarus of Bethany

by Lori Negridge Allen

I might have thought—The odors of the dead
are now my odors. My good sisters
prepared my corpse as custom bids, but this dread
foulness persists. Or—What a mystery

is time. How many handbreadths make a day?
How many omers a shekel? How to measure
what cannot be held? So the mind weaves tales
from crumbs. What I do remember

is neither mitzvah to bless nor sin to confess,
not my ancestors’ welcome, not being alone
with oil of myrrh… not even darkness.
When I heard you cry, “Take away the stone,”

I was a pillar of salt, my hands and feet bound, 
my brain a dry sponge, my face wrapped in cloth, 
my heart a winged creature cocooned between worlds 
like a prayer between words. “Lazarus, come out!”

You called. Whatever it is you’ll have of me now,
I bow, my Lord, I bow. 

Lori Negridge Allen recently moved from a house overlooking a stream flowing into a small lake to a condo overlooking a river flowing into a sound. Most days find her walking the beach, wondering at tides.

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