“In Memory of Her,” A Poem for Holy Week by Susan Windley-Daoust

This is a poem I came across this week and it helped me to see the story of the woman anointing Jesus (as told in Mark 14) with new eyes.

In Memory Of Her

“Leave her alone.”
And for the rest of my life, they do.
They are not supposed to look at me, but
Sidelong glances and traitorous sounds tell them
I am crying,
And words I want to say are choked, stillborn.
I can’t tell them how I knew
unless you, too, see it was obvious
that he was not meant to stay with us forever.
He seemed to know it that day,
the way he ate so slowly, deliberately,
staring at people, boring into their eyes,
the occasional pause, blink,
seeing something we could, or would, not.
He was with us and not,
and I knew: it was time.
So I rushed to get the jar of spikenard,
my dowry,
and stepped over reclining men,
to his mat.
With a pleading glance, I knelt down,
Cracked the seal,
And poured out a portion, then the whole, of my hope
on his head, and then his feet.
Kneeling at those calloused feet, I wept
with the knowledge of what this means:
I have given my future
To this man, who will die.
As that perfume filled the room,
He smiled, lifting my chin, and addressed me:
“…you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told….”

So I was left alone by men.
No one understood, then;
truth, I barely understood myself.
But in that gift, my center shifted
And I knew– despite his coming death–that I was meant to be alone, for him, somehow.

The day after the catastrophe,
I looked at the broken jar
I remembered the fragrance
And I hoped.

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