Mary Of Bethany

Mary Of Bethany

Mary Of Bethany 1920 1281 D.S. Martin

Some women are blessed with words
I have eloquent tears   My sister weaves
her expectations into reasonable structures
that rise higher than the temple mount
but cannot touch me   for I slip beneath them
stretch my body below them    prostrate 
in a flow of spilled emotion   like perfume 
from an alabaster jar that with a quick break
can fill a room 

When our brother grew sick   Martha sent word
to fetch the Master   & my prayers leapt
like soldiers in a skirmish   But with our walls
tumbled   & the pillage of our light complete
I stumbled & wept    Though tired   
each night I barely slept   Lazarus was dead
There was no need for the mourners Martha hired
though we could afford them   I shed
enough tears for the entire village 

When the Lord came    I fell at his feet
& kept repeating what Martha had said
If you’d been here he wouldn’t have died
When Jesus cried   I thought he felt the same  
despair I did   but then   epiphany
he opened the tomb    as if unwrapping a gift   
If you’ve seen the plume of a fount   you’ve seen
the lift within me    Skipping over the Mount 
of Olives    I danced through Bethany

But whenever I glanced sidelong at the Lord
it seemed a strong cord was ripping
at his heart   I realized his grief was come
& my part would be as some fool
bringing slim relief by sharing sorrow   
I poured my prized spikenard on his feet
diluted it with tears   let my hair pool
on the floor   leaving tomorrow to my fears
to serve the one I adore



This poem is part of an upcoming collection, Ampersand. Please visit for more information about this and D.S. Martin’s other published works. 



D.S. Martin

D.S. Martin is the author of three poetry collections 'Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis' (Cascade), 'Poiema' (Wipf & Stock), and the chapbook 'So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed' (Rubicon). His poems have appeared in such publications as Canadian Literature, The Christian Century, Dalhousie Review, and Queen's Quarterly. He is the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books, and the editor of the new anthology, The Turning Aside. He and his wife live in Brampton, Ontario; they have two sons.

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