Jesus To Judas, From Kingdom Come
Go and do quickly that which you must do.
It’s true. Though the others never recorded it in their texts,
I loved him best. And knew from the moment we met he would require
something extra to pull off this business—that he’d pay the price
for intelligence. Nights on the road, between miracles, I would catch him
watching me with beady eyes as if he might steal my bag of tricks,
pull a flock of doves from a flap in our tent, expose a mirror from the pocket
of my robe. It’s easy to worship blindly. What I mean is— there was some
balance struck between the believing naif and the Roman cynic, and few
had that hairline down the way he did—often distracted from my teaching,
always pushing the limits of what could be known hands-on, fingering coins,
the correct change in the market, or retrieving ledgers Matthew kept for taxes.
(His suspicious and prolonged wine-tasting the night of the wedding.)
And he took inordinate time checking the count of the fishes—
things like that, choosing the tangible over what must remain unfocused,
not like the shade of a man’s skin, but the shape of prayer, the texture
of sin, as if one could measure Satan’s gloss in the desert
when noontime sun splayed the horizon. He lacked the fusion of dust
on an eyelash, that feel for a fourth dimension. With his long fingers
he’d pluck at his full red beard, flash a disarming question,
forehead compressed in sullen resistance to the simplicity of the word
love. Mouth crimping down at the mention of any emotion,
so I grew certain I could trust him to carry out the plan. That’s why
I waited, never told him, knowing he’d take my cues in advance.
And he knew I knew, after supper, after I washed his gnarly feet,
at the moment I stroked his hand, understanding within an hour
in the garden, still with the bloody wine on his breath, he would dispatch
the final piece. Not with gold or silver, mind you, but with the kiss,
that tenuous kiss, how I dreamt it and dreaded it. But I relied on him,
on his being the strongest with a mind that could not go beyond
our human significance—Yet I regret that we never acknowledged
the mutual set-up, that I never thanked him in the flesh
or forced him to admit we colluded in the covenant.
At the end when I looked down through the sullied ceiling
of storm, I recognized his spirit form just ahead of me
on its knees— and I blessed those two earthly bodies—
from their respective trees.
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