Martha’s Leftovers (a poem)

martha’s leftovers
by kirsten
november 16, 2005

 jesus, if you had been here,
i would not have died

it’s the first thing martha said
and mary too
when jesus finally showed up to bethany
a day late and a dollar short
well, four days late and maybe only fifty cents short,
give him credit for crying at the grave
for raising lazarus from the dead—
not just anyone can pull that off

but who puts their friends
through something like that
i mean really
who the hell thinks it’s okay
when you get the middle of the night
phone call
when it’s for real
your best friend is dying
and you could be there
could actually save the guy’s life
who the hell says into the receiver—
okay, I’ll be there in four days
then hangs up and goes back to sleep

martha doesn’t let jesus off the hook
mary either
martha hears he’s coming
finally
and pounces on him

if you had been here
(you should have been here)
lazarus wouldn’t have died

mary stays camped in the house
betrayed
till he sends for her
and then she vollies forth like her sister

if you had been here
(we called and you didn’t come)
lazarus wouldn’t have died

and so is there any way
lazarus
once unwrapped
once he’d hugged his sisters
maybe even jesus too
sometime later sitting down with jesus
to late night leftovers
of whatever martha had prepared
wouldn’t he have come out with the same thing

 if you had been here
(you said you loved me)
i wouldn’t have died

we all say it to him
don’t we
i do
because we die these horrible deaths
all the time
not even the final one
(that’s maybe easier because
at least you don’t have to do it again)
it’s not that but
all the meantime deaths
the ones we deem unnecessary—
those are the ones that kill us

because resurrection’s cool and all
but not when you have to die first
not when you have to sit
with martha’s leftovers
sit across from jesus
and declare either
your death necessary
or your lord untrustworthy

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