For Raven Thomas Stevenson
After eight days, the room begins to stink,
Our sweat and fetid flesh a single stench
That gives no quarter to speak or even think
Beyond this tomb. Our teeth and fingers clench
Around contending bones of fact. One link
Remains. She rests upon a mantled bench
In silence. Thomas murmurs, “Dead! No more
Alive than fish that rot upon the shore!”
The seven sins were baying at the door
And through them hissed a slinking doubt;
There’s naught—not even fishing anymore—
To occupy our hearts and heads. We can’t go out;
We loath to show a soul our faces, flout
The laws, the priests. To flee Jerusalem,
We pay with fear to rent this upper room.
“The six days of creation”—Thomas fumes
Suspicion—“has that time now taken place?
But two more days than that have passed!” Presumed
To be upon an errand, no trace
Or word all week, now returned, exhumes
His doubt and doubles down—with furrowed face
And five fingers knit within his hair, held
Dissembling without purpose. “Jesus! What
Would he have us do?” The tears shimmered—welled
Within his eyes. In sudden heat he spat,
“Let doubt make wounds again of every cut.”
Four gashes—bled out—gaped with candle flame
The following dawn—and Thomas too awoke
To take as truth what blessed the heart he broke
And, crumb by crumb, he gave away in shame.
“For three days, the corpse of Lazarus spoke
In silence all that death could not attest.
My Lord, my God, what fire the ashes stoke….”
In twinned apocalypse of east and west,
Where gorging darkness breaks its horrid fast
A solitary light becomes the feast.