WWP Poem #4: A Zealot

I lean upon this door and feel the fabric of the wood –
splinter-down, cragged skin, brown crooked canyon marvel –
against my fingers and cheek. Try to
press my shoulder into it, make it ache
like stones in a path pressing their backs into the
bottoms of your feet, like the
weight of a wooden cross upon a ripped-apart back,
a shoulder scribbled upon in red, skin inscribed
by a whip. Try to press the door into
the valley next to my neck, and listen for the moan
of my bowed collarbone: but nothing works. I cannot
carry stars across my shoulders like you do – not in
this courtyard, where you handed me the knife
and told me to dig in.

Maybe I need a greater weight. Can I
pull down the night upon this door? It is here
that you spoke of stars. Judas, lift up your eyes, you said,
and look at the cloud, and the light within it, and the
stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way
is your star.
Can stars and stones become
brothers? I wonder if Peter, James, and Andrew
will build roads onto my body, hurling stones
into my mortar to see if they will stick. Mortar
cannot live – only the dead can hold stones. Am I
a footpath to Gehenna, my soul needing only an inlay of stones
for the christening of feet? I do not know – but
there is a noose crying for my neck, like
the blood on your back cried for exit.

Even this door reaches for Heaven. A
perfect semi-circle arc, a bald head of cedar,
a dome crown hewn by hands like yours. I remember
your palms, how they were a perfect copy of
this door in callous and scar. How you dug into wood
and shaped it. Did you see your own body, begging for
nails, in every plank of cedar or beam of pine
that used to cross your father’s workshop floor? You must have
had an impulse to connect wood to wood and make it
intersect, turn yourself into a living tree with your
top scrapping the underbelly of a ninth hour sky. That day, she
tore herself apart and wept for you with lightning, traded
her blue veils for ash-and-sackcloth clouds that were
gray like the lump ghost behind my larynx: it has been
living there for three days and will not leave.

I have nails too, Rabbi. Thirty of them.
They sleep a mirrored sleep, those coins,
babbling softly in my purse. They cannot replace
ragged skin, the small tattered emblems of a life calling purpose
from the bodies of wood. Those tokens on your work-worn hands
whispered gentle scratches into mine when you clasped them,
on the night that you told me how I would die: you will
sacrifice the man that clothes me.
Just like
the wood, you always called up art from us twelve:
we were a crowd of bearded children with
eyes affixed to your star. But I cannot supernova like you:

instead, there is a vacant field
that will hold my dying light. That light
will ease out of my body, drain out of my throat while
my star is hung from the arms of an unwilling tree. If you
ever find that tree, ask her how I exited. She will tell you that I did it
without any nails inside my wrists.

Written 6/2/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved. Sections in italics quoted from the Gospel of Judas.

—————————————————–
This week’s poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt #4: Doors courtesy of Wayne Pitchko. I think this poem is pretty self-explanatory: I’ll just note that I used the Gospel of Judas, which claims that Jesus asked Judas to hand him over to be crucified, as the inspiration for this piece. I hope you enjoyed the poem.

-Nicole
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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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9 Responses to WWP Poem #4: A Zealot

  1. Mary Kling says:

    Nicole, I am awed.
    What a powerful and thought-provoking piece!

    http://inthecornerofmyeye.blogspot.com/2010/06/lavender-key.html

  2. What a depthful poem. I like how you expanded the Biblical story and gave it your own slant.

    http://troublebeingstrong.blogspot.com/2010/06/unlock-door.html

  3. Paul Oakley says:

    Fine poem, Nicole. I particularly like the treatment of the coins as “nails.”

    It’s one of the aspects of traditional (orthodox) Christianity that doesn’t satisfactorily resolve in the explanation: why it was necessary for Judas to deliver Jesus to the Romans and yet he was condemned for it? The Gospel of Judas provides an important counterpoint to the orthodox position. Thanks for sharing it.

    there is a vacant field
    that will hold my dying light.

    Beautiful lines!

  4. Brenda says:

    Marvelous, exquisitely crafted. Bravo! Bravo! This will take several reads to digest completely, and I imagine new insight will pop up each time.

    Thanks for this–it is dynamite.

  5. pamela says:

    provocative poem Nicole!
    This is awesome! Always a pleasure to read your writing!
    Pamela

  6. Sheer pleasure to read it. I am bookmarking it!

    sky as the canvas of my thoughts

  7. heartspell says:

    Beautiful piece; so heartfelt. I loved it. Thanks for sharing. Heartspell

  8. angie says:

    wow, Nicole. this is so amazing. it stops my heart, reading it. it’s mesmerizing.
    I love this whole idea, exploring the heart of the one condemned. and I love the physical presence you create, tying the spirit to the concrete, with lines like this:

    I remember
    your palms, how they were a perfect copy of
    this door in callous and scar. How you dug into wood
    and shaped it. Did you see your own body, begging for
    nails, in every plank of cedar or beam of pine
    that used to cross your father’s workshop floor?

    beautiful work.

  9. Pingback: “A Zealot” Wins First Place in Adult Category in Worthington Libraries Poetry Contest | Raven's Wing Poetry

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