All the Gospels refer to the period when the heavens were just beginning to brighten in the east. This, of course, does not take place until the sunrise is at hand. For it is the brightness which is diffused by the rising sun that is familiarly designated by the name of the dawn … For as the day breaks, what remains of the darkness passes away just in proportion as the sun continues to rise.
Augustine of Hippo
Harmony of the Gospels
The squabbling soldiers gone, the women got
What fell to them. Beneath the drooping eyes
Of Pilate’s guard (the afternoon was hot)
They laid him out and shooed the stinging flies,
Rubbed linen strips with myrrh and aloes, rinsed
The dust from limbs whose wounds no longer bled.
As if the crown still pressed there, Mary winced
When, with a separate cloth, they wrapped his head;
And she recalled the pressure of his palm,
The scent of spikenard, Simon’s baleful stare,
And how, the whole house filling with the balm,
She wiped his wet feet with her loosened hair.
Days later, at the empty tomb alone,
She thought first of his pierced and broken feet
And wept, incredulous. But he was gone,
The wrappings, neatly rolled, still faintly sweet.
A gardener was bending in the shade
Among the gravestones. Trembling with dismay,
She cried, “Where is he? Tell me where you’ve laid
His body. Who has taken him away?”
He didn’t answer. When she called again,
The stranger stood and took a step or two.
Her fear became bewilderment. And then
He said her name, and suddenly she knew.
Published in the Winter 2008 Issue