by Carolyn Martin
With all due respect, I call it “The Boss’s Dinner.”
We’d hang out in this upper room frequently
to debrief and strategize. When a rocky boat
is heading toward a risky shore, my guys craved
assurances that, steering it, I knew the way.
The round table is one my father carved.
Each time I laid my hands on its craftsmanship,
I felt the flow of his gentle strength.
Behind the scenes, he taught me well.
The beauty on my right? My dearest Magdalene.
Her job: updates on women working on our team.
How tending to the poor and sick, loving those unlike
themselves, they spread our good news efficiently.
My men – threatened by her confidence –
could barely nod, confirming – I regret – some lessons
will take centuries to stick.
On my left: Judas, my good friend.
Get this straight: he only did what I asked.
He begged me to promote someone else,
but I convinced him he was up for it.
It pains me I never saw how it would end.
Call it, if you will, the “Judas Principle”:
a cautionary tale for leaders everywhere.
The profiles centerstage are Matthew and Mark
arguing about their infant narratives. They seemed
to care more about applause than unvarnished truth.
A seat away, Luke rolls his doctor’s eyes.
From stage right, my favorite young mystic
carries unleavened bread he baked before
the sun agreed to set. Stage left, that’s Peter
with a bag of figs, James with a sack of fish.
The other five? Hidden in the wings with flasks
of wine we nicked from last month’s wedding feast.
I wish I could say that white space was intentional –
like psalmists settling silence in their songs,
or scribes margins on their scrolls – but that would be a fib.
God-honest-truth? My brushes were wearing down,
my pigments drying up, my time running out.
Sometimes good enough is all that is.
It tickles me you hung it in your dining room.
I love the way morning sun haloes the scene
and afternoon shade invites a closer look.
And it chokes me up to see it lit by candlelight
during your evening meal.