by Katherine

Most eyes stay the cold distance,
seeing us ever behind those sturdy walls of towns, flesh and hearts
with the other lepers —
But there were whisperings of the master healer today, and
our rotting epidermises and atrophic tendons were lurching
for a notice that stays, that touches, that cures.
He knows our Samaritan blood,
He stands separate in his Jewish goodness,
more pure than the purest who look away,
yet somehow we dare again.
Hope shrivels, but still quivers in us,
these lumps of unrecognizablity.

“Mercy us, master Jesus. Even us.”
We see him ahead;
and we keep away, but feel a beautiful exposure –
there are no walls in his gaze.
Strange freedom, he must know us beyond this leprosy,
he must know me beyond this grave-bound body.
Do the others feel it with me, that my very heart is being pierced –
a heart diseased more by bitterness than my skin by bacterium?

“Go, appear to the priests.”
No room for questioning such a man, only hastily limping to obey.
Only with each step, we feel, and breathe, and run. Forgotten bliss.
The holy men who had only sent us back to
the uncleanness and stench of ourselves before,
now saw soundness and the glow of life in us,
in eyes that had been met by the life himself.

To thank, to praise,
I must be unfitting since he knows my deeper pollution,
yet there is none else but to run back.
“Come with me!
As sick brothers, we wailed.
As loved men, we sing.
The master has heard and healed us.”
Now, I shout deliverance through renewed lungs oxygenating
healed muscles and feeling skin, and fall when I see him.
My face bathes in the dust of his standing-place,
and my hands tremble to touch his sandaled feet.
They are touchable now. They are grace.

A glance behind finds no movement,
no stampede of eighteen other whole feet of other whole men.
No hands crowding mine to adore Jesus.
Alone, I look back to his face.
“There were ten. Only you returned to praise? A stranger to this place?
Stand and live. You have trusted me, you have found me.
Today, it is well with your soul.”