George, when Mary passed Luke Harvey Poetry

local_library George, when Mary passed

by Luke Harvey

Published in Issue No. 273 ~ February, 2020

Her breath had slipped

the space between her rib-cage,

bent down and kissed

his forehead while he slept, then padded across

the coffee stain out into balmy Alabama night.

She left no prints. 


                            Today is Sunday. After church,

Ms. Jenny holds his bony forearms, says Lord it just aint right

that cancer plays both judge

and jury in the court,

says let her know if green-bean casserole would help. 

The congregation shakes the reverend’s hand, filing out

to porch-front dinners prepped

by Crisco fingertips.                   

                               He waits beside the oak then slips back in

to sit alone, the second pew, as was their wont. The rafters cross

like mercy and justice in

the Genesis tales. There’s much

I do not understand, he thinks, and weeps

the way he hasn’t since Thomas went

from womb to heaven’s gates 

in less than ten. 


Above the communion table the dust-mites dance.

She loved to dance, and told him that

she thought the secret sauce

to living was singin and movin. She lived that.

He chokes a line of Amazing Grace

that filters through the stain-glassed windowpanes

and colors the silence.

This song too he doesn’t fully understand,

especially the part with blind and seeing,

but still he sings. She’d always said

she loved when Mary Magdalen

went to the empty tomb without

full knowledge of whether it was true. 

He gets that now, and standing, spins

between the wooden pews 

on penny-loafer’d feet. How sweet the sound, 

how sweet the sound.

He gets it now. He sings a little louder, 

picturing her in her cotton dress, 

the one the color

of lemons with roses on the sleeves.    


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L.R. Harvey teaches and writes in Chattanooga, TN. His poetry has been widely published in magazines such as After the Pause, Red Eft Review, Ancient Paths, Tennessee Magazine, Write Launch, and many others.

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