The National Catholic Review
Scott Dalgarno
Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper.
John 12:1-2

Four days dead and sipping soup, Lazarus
Sits up, grunts, asks, What’s today? He reeks
Of tomb, but no one blanches at this banquet.

Sister Martha feeds him, wipes his chin, reminding him
Of time and mass and the unforgiving weight of resuscitation.
There’s that late-charge he thought he was clear of,

And the pruning, and that long look a bar-maid
Once gave him, but that’s all in Lazarus’ moldy brain.
The guests merely gape; the vacuum of the tomb

Has sucked every verb from the house, but Mary
Has an idea. She produces a jar of nard, pure, priceless,
And gloppy as death. She smashes it like some Jeremiah,

Peeling the fractured alabaster, lavishing the ooze
On Jesus’ chapped knees and feet. All stand transfixed,
But Lazarus’ eyes are still on Martha’s spoon,

Hovering a bit out of reach. Slowly he searches the room
For an explanation. There’s Mary, as busy as a Martha,
And Martha, nonplussed, her heart churning envy and disgust.

What kind of household is this, Lazarus wonders,
Where the dead are fed and the living embalmed?
Nothing sealed is safe; nothing at rest left undisturbed

By the merciless provocations of the living.


Scott Dalgarno is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Ore. His poems, stories and essays have been published widely. He writes a regular column for The Ashland Daily Tidings.

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