Poetry Column March 2021

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This month the column commemorates the passion of our Lord Jesus.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open… 
~ Matthew 27:51-52a

Did the angels
Those sinew-armed strongmen of the ages
Sweat great drops of celestial self-control

Did tears run down the faces
Of those who continually see the Face

Did holy muscles tremble and twitch
at being restrained
at seeing urgency and being forbidden
at hearing the cries and stopping their unearthly ears

Did eternal eyes flinch and close against the sight
Of a Savior they couldn’t save?

All Creation, we are told in the book of Romans, groans as it awaits redemption. How much more the powerful, unaging messengers of God—those who sang of his birth, who ministered to his loneliness in the Garden—how would they have agonized as they watched, helpless, as their Master’s life seeped away, at the hands of godless men?


Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
~ John 19:38-39

Joseph and Nicodemus

What a disheveled heap
This bled-out bone bag makes
Crusted with spit and sweat
Entrusted with threats to the two of us

The workman’s wiry muscles, now slack
Are pitiful as they break through the flayed skin
But the blood—it is all gone, tired of flowing
Clotted and forgotten at the dirt footer of
The flogging pole
And of course
That cross

We avert from each other
But we cannot stop our own tears
Squeezed out between our eyelids
That should shield us from what we see here:
The candlewax pallor

The shamed nakedness we wash and cover first
To give the modesty the audience denied
Our towels dipped in the pots
We lugged down the stairs
The water pinks now
In the lamplight

Part by part
Limb by limb
We dampen and rub away
All the vestiges on
The shell of a delivered-over spirit

One of the winding cloths rolls below the ledges
We reel it in and wrap his arms
From the swaddles on our grizzled forearms

We have grown wrinkles under our tears
The weight is almost beyond our old-men strength
We heft and lean
Balance and wrap

The acrid spices
The confined space
Bring more tears
More tears

We find we do not need
The water any more

True friendship means standing by someone in all the stages of life—and in the final stage of death. Even though His lifeless body could no longer bless and heal, His friends treated it with respect, preparing it for a final resting place. Little did they know that it would soon be walking and talking and leaving those grave clothes behind!

Dr. Latayne C. Scott is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for “Creative Christian Writing,” and is Trinity Southwest University’s Author in Residence. Her newest book is Talking with Teens about Sexuality: Critical Conversations about Social Media, Gender Identity, Same-Sex Attraction, Pornography, Purity, Dating, Etc. with Dr. Beth Robinson (Bethany Books.) The author of over two dozen published books, including Passion, Power, Proxy, Release (TSU Press) in which these poems appear, she lives and writes in New Mexico. She maintains two websites: Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.

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