Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Body of Christ" by Lily Herman

Body of Christ

Three words millions lazily
drawl in the course
of their otherwise-occupied
days. I watch them and
count how few
actually picture
that tender skin
aged so briefly before
it ripped itself open
and invited them,
a pack of unsympathetic
strangers, to enter paradise
by a short walk
through all of its wounds.

No matter the master
of its mind, a body
at thirty-three
rejects for a bedmate
death, and all its rotting
corpulent companions, his
lungs and kidneys cry out
to be taken to a man
who will think more
generously on their behalf,
give them their proper
due, in hours spent
accruing the glorious
mold of old age
like fine clothes
stored in a wet

And what of Mary.
Who must have remembered
as do the mothers of all
errant sons, the shape
of her infant in her arms,
the milk that passed
between them, not made
merely of light
but of her own systems
and struggles. The news
of his fast bringing with it
the instinct, which never
leaves a woman, to feed
the one she bore
out from the abyss
by the sweat of her

His hair, raked
with thorns as always
it is in photographs,
would have been
better suited by a chain of
daisies, or the delicate gold
gifted by a shy admirer, or
as is often the case
with youth, unhindered
in its beauty by decoration
at all.

If the son needed
to suffer, that we might
be free, why must
it have been that moment
we chose to portray him
as one of us? A prophet
is one of us. A bard,
a baptist, a whore with her
head perpetually bent
to the feet of great
men—washing, washing,
and yet none of these
would we dream of undoing
bodily, or if so, no
one would tell stories
about it. It is only
at the glance of a god
that we raise our weapons
and shoot him who dares
to stir placidly like a buck
in the woods, leave him
bleeding out, leave the meat
as an offering to our future

selves, for all the wrongs
we still intend to commit.
No one thinks of him
with goose bumps after
the sun went down
in Judea, or the pleasure
that must have imbeded
itself upright
like a rod in his spine
when he first learned his hands
brought happiness to those
who had ailed
for so long. All forms
celebrate their own triumphs.

Sharon Olds wrote about the Pope’s
penis because she was too
frightened to look Christ
in the eye. But there it is:
as a beast’s, and right
where it should be, used
as daily as anyone else’s,
if one is to say, God
as man, one cannot avert
their gaze from the perfection
of men. Perfect

they are, we are to say,
thanks to him
and his yielding torso,
giving itself over as one
relents to persistent
love, concedes that all
they’ve ever had is not theirs
until, blissfully,
bloodily, it belongs
to someone else, too.


Lily Herman lives in Baltimore. A collection of her poems called Better than some, not as good as some others, was released by Furniture Press Books in 2011. She runs a reading series called “ILLITERATI” out of the Pent House Gallery in the Copy Cat building, and co-writes a blog of food stories called "What I Ate Where" with her cohort Adrian Shirk. She lives with seven dreamy humans and one cat, who, darling though he is, manages to stay almost entirely out of her poems.

No comments:

Post a Comment