Magdalen - Poem by Deborah DeNicola
(The Disciples) said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us? "
The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? "
- -The Gospel of Philip, The Nag Hammadi Library
History named me a whore.
But history fears women
and finds an excuse. I was worse.
The Sorceress of Magdala, I knew
the patterns of imbalance
which horn beam cured.
Tranquility induced by larch and beech.
Stirring palliatives of aspen and clematis
in a slow boil of weeds, I mixed elixirs for dropsy
and warts. When I taught, I taught throats to open,
intoning the centers along the spine
and I knew chants
to extract the animal rage from a lover.
Thomas called me the thirteenth apostle,
unlucky, and Peter wanted me
gone. But Christ
knew me as kin, knew history
would be unkind. After the crowd broke up
we sat and talked on my pallet,
my elbow brushed his as I shared the figs
hidden under my cloak. Our burden came clear
in the first taste of fruit. Even the air circling our limbs
slid into contours like caresses, each glow
weaving the other's shadow. Dark blew out the sky
and only the fire of our doubled ethers lit up the hut.
The method of love is not as important as its transmission.
And how bad is it for the gospel's infamous slut,
if the soul lives her purpose? If the heart that has learned
to transcend transcends?
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