Making this painting, taking morning walks in this suddenly beautiful spring time, and reflecting on Mary Magdalene as a person were all one and the same act for me. Her face, as I painted it, is a little frightened, a little reserved, maybe even somewhat skeptical. The face of someone who’s been hurt by hope, and is afraid to hope again. I imagine that I’ve captured her in just that moment before she recognized the gardener. Her thoughts are still on doubt and loss, rather then on rejoicing, but she holds the delicacy of rejoicing, the possibility of it, in her hand, in the form of a lily. As I pondered this, and walked in the morning, I wrote this poem to express what she’s feeling.
God of calloused hands, like splinters,
like wooden bowls full of dinner.
I returned here with morning,
wanting to return
to that last evening we spent together,
all of us in a shadowed room,
our sorrow true as winter.
It was your winter –
your limbs were like graying trees,
your body like this garden –
its dirt and worms were in your eyes.
Your blood was picnic trash,
your bones the tumbling walls of tombs.
Everything was falling feathers,
everything was embryos
spilled from broken eggs onto the ground.
How did Spring come so quickly to this garden?
The birds are hollow bones and light and flight.
The leaves are a touch on my face.
How did I not see the suddenness of tulips?
I see the sweet wounds of your body
replaced by roses,
that open with a fragrance
that is green as sunlight echoed from wet grass.
Each sorrow a petal, a delicate touch, a softness.
You make pain itself into the lightness of Spring.
You make doubt into bird song, the sky into grace.