Buried with him in his death

Buried with him in his death

1920 1440 Tania Runyan

We fought for one more sputter
of the old life. Even though a breeze passing
over your sieve of skin could send you
screaming, you muscled up your diaphragm
to whisk more air into the fire.

I held my own terrors to my chest:
failures and brush-offs, cancers and crashes,
all the anxieties I had grown to love
heaving and cracking like your ribcage
until we both gave out.

Then there was the mess of prying us loose:
wailing women and splintered lumber,
flesh stubbornly sticking to the nails.
But what swift hands, that Joseph of Arimathea,
what purposeful footsteps crunching the ground!

He wrapped us in linen and spices.
Only the hapless world could think of packing
fifty pounds of aloe around a dead man’s wounds.
But we drank it in like deserts
until finally even the lizards scurried home.

I lay in the cave and wanted to touch you,
but my hands were no longer mine.
They closed in on themselves like daylilies.
The stone rumbled over the window of light,
and then our difficult rising began.

 


Tania Runyan

Tania Runyan is the author of the poetry collections Second Sky, A Thousand Vessels, Simple Weight, and Delicious Air, which was awarded Book of the Year by the Conference on Christianity and Literature in 2007. Her book How to Read a Poem, an instructional guide based on Billy Collins’s “Introduction to Poetry,” was released in 2014. More information about this book, including teaching tools and a $1000 scholarship, can be found at howtoreadapoem.com. Tania's poems have appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Image, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Christian Century, Atlanta Review, Indiana Review, Willow Springs, Nimrod, and the anthology In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare. Tania was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2011 and writes for Image Journal's blog, Good Letters. When not writing, Tania tutors high school students, plays fiddle and mandolin, and gets lost in her Midwestern garden.

All posts by Tania Runyan
1 Comment
  • Tanya, you write great poetry. Some of the lines are very powerful and evocative such as “we fought for one more sputter of the old life”, ” the anxieties I had grown to love” and “only the hapless could think of packing fifty pounds of aloe around a dead man’s wounds”. I went ahead and shared this on my Facebook page and Google+ . I wrote a poem called Murder on the Hill based on the crucifixion a number of years ago. If you are interested to have a look at it, you will find it in my blog poeticlogik.wordpress.com .

Leave a Reply