by Maxine Scates


Clouds parted, hands reached for us
because we wanted god made flesh
and flesh made touch
which cured the leper, forgave
the prostitute, raised the dead
from the dead.

In the outcast we saw
what might be changed if the untouchable
in us might too be touched
and in the risen dead, our deadened selves
cast off. Alive to the god in us
we hoed the garden, took the honey
from the comb, traced
simple designs of love--same god
who slapped the child,
held the knife to quivering throat--
our lot to wind and unwind,
do and undo.

And so the healers among us
reach hand for hand,
touch held between us each time anew,
what it might mean,
how it might change us
until it is its own body, flesh and blood,
salt of tears, our little temple
where fingers dip to tend the wound--
sting of vinegar, balm of tenderness--
until it seems again nothing festers,
the bloodied water finally clear,
nothing left untouched.

From Black Loam. Originally appeared in Luna.