By Jane Zwart
Just this side of spectacle, abundance; just this side
of cupidity, wonder. Think of Gaudi’s basilica:
its honeycombed stone, the mosaic pinwheel
too heavy for any wind to stir, the pyramids
of bright fruit capping the cathedral’s peaks.
Think of the unsubtle angel, her acrylic nails
and dragon wings. I love the tree that upstages
the forest, the brocade that turns the duchess wan.
I love the rose that’s grown only to throw in the grave.
Lazarus, In Icons
In some, a bystander holds the tail
of the stiff’s swaddling fondly
almost as if lent a handkerchief
and in some, a keyed-up extra
clenches the grave clothes like a man
a magician’s auditioning:
Christ will say the word
and this fellow will pull,
the winding will tornado,
and Lazarus will fouette out
just like a string top. But in others
it’s a youth who has untucked
the corpse’s cerements in two places.
He bends down holding the shroud’s laces
no different from a parent
tying a toddler’s shoe. And then,
of course, there are the icons
where the departed’s trussed
but also half-squatting, as if
implausibly ready to leap. Or those
where he’s given a coffin to stand in,
whether like a man filling a door frame
or like a doll left flat-footed
in a drawer. Sometimes the box
does not stand up or sit flat but tilts
instead, to make a gangplank
between his resting place and the rest
of his life. For there are his sisters, beached
at Jesus’s feet, and tossed off to one side
leans a door fit more for a kitchen cupboard
than for a catacomb (did it shrink
in the miracle?) but always Lazarus blinks.
Here it is again: the world, flat and bright.
Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have previously appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.