Jesus Illuminates His Latest Work of Art

by Carolyn Martin

Sand sculptures of biblical looking figures on the beach

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.

Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 130 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. She is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.

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