Magdalene

by Claudia Esh

Her hands, the hands that dabbled in the coals,
caress the cool curve of serenity.
The liquid gold within is clear as dawn,
and smells of spikenard and prosperity.
In dreams, she’s cherished it a thousand times—
has touched it to the pulsing at her wrists—
and has gone out wrapped in its silken wealth,
aloof as moonlight, tall with confidence.

Who is this Man, alone among the men,
who dares to disregard her scented veils,
who walks among the shattered, yet unscarred,
smelling of desert winds and dust and nails?
He knows her, somehow. All her careful walls
are falling like the legends told of old.
What will those burning eyes see curled within
but starving dreams, dry rinds, and tarnished gold?

And yet His love unfolds her like a bud.
Unwillingly she finds herself unbent
and opening to the light. Is that a rose
unfolding red where all was desolate?
She holds a little back. Still this is left:
the fortune, the perfume clasped in her hands—
security itself, her future’s hopes.
He waits like light: He warms without demand.

She kneels at sandalled feet. The righteous glares
of righteous men can never hurt her here.
This kingly radiance of white-hot grace
shields her: He takes Himself the rush of fear,
and here she honors what He will become,
with fragrant bleeding hands and tangled hair.
The sacrifice anoints the sacrifice
and rises to the heavens like a prayer.


claudiaClaudia Esh loves exploring the world of words, teaching children, and feels most at home in the woods.

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