stories & poems

The Women of Jesus

Worn bare by the promise of Glory,
pressed flat as the face of Heaven,
the Women of Jesus
bake casseroles,
clip coupons,
rock babies,
bury the dead.

They sing โ€œAmazing Graceโ€
at four in the afternoon,
at five the men arrive-
six-pack of beer and off to the basement.

On Sunday evening,
Hallelujah!
They slip from kitchens,
from bleached dishrags,
from hot, gleaming glasses,

back to church.
Fans flap, hands wave,
breasts and hips in flowered dresses
rolling
tongues pray,
feet stomp-
Murphyโ€™s wood oil and perspiration.
Revived

they return through unlocked doors 
to dark houses
where they hover in stove light,
flip the pages of a fat, black Bible,
read the recipes spiced with suffering,
learn the parameters of worry.

Yes, there is grace,
deep and dark as the ore of iron,
but it is grace given out
like calcium from too brittle bones.

When, at last
they heave themselves,
lotioned legs and scrubbed feet,
beneath the blankets, between the sheets,
the Women of Jesus sigh.

โ€œJust like a boy,โ€
they think,
โ€œa couple of hours on the cross,
and down he comes,
ready for resurrection.โ€


-Mark J. Royse 
Site Collection, 1999