JULIANNE BAGGOTT

 

A Caution Against Historical Poetry in the Voice of Lazarus

I would have said, Don't unearth me.
But I was brought back to life, or think of it this way:
I have the painful distinction of dying twice.
The living! Tediously selfish. I don't blame Jesus.
He didn't expect the crowd of mourners,
Martha and Mary wrung out from weeping.
He was still naive about our humanness, our vast capacity
not always for love, but grief.
          He recalled the story of the king
who killed himself by burning his castle to the ground,
and tried to understand again our need to take
everything with us, our instinct to guard, to keep.
But he was disoriented, thinking of all that had to be
undone.
          Sorrow doesn't fold in on itself like water.
Guilt must be returned, poured back
          like blood into the body.
The son must become a son again, shrinking to the edges,
and the wife, my wife, aged by grief, had to be pressed clean.
Alone in the cave, my first breath was an outward gust,
not the drawing in of new air. My lungs sighed out
what I'd died holding tight.
I stood, wearily. I did what the dead always do:
          I followed the light.
They pushed the rock away from the tomb
and I appeared, wrapped in wax-stiff clothe.
Jesus said, Untie him. Set him free, but into what world?
My wife doesn't complain, but the stench of death never fades.
Long after Jesus climbed into heaven,
I was left with what? My desire for the tight fit of a shroud,
          the silent tomb of clean memory.


Eve Recalls Birthing and Her Discovery of Metaphor

My baby's purple head newly wrung of blood
reddened. Adam rubbed his body dry, no longer fish-like,

while I fisted my own stomach, to push out
the shining clots as dark red as bruised, ground-rotting apples,

my stomach, too, like the softened fruit, the way only the skin holds shape
when the inside has turned to meal. My belly dull-colored,

gray almost and empty, I was the first to see how one thing
stands sadly for another, emotion mingling sweetly,

cruelly with the world. I knew what it was to be
not free, but freed from, to be the garden left behind,

not just the willow, but all the sagged limbs weeping.