The Gospel of Thomas: Through the Open Wound
He shook his head as he wrote: Damn the flesh that depends on the soul. Damn the soul that depends on the flesh.
A beard scrimmed his face.
Afterward, the sky resembled a field vast with white sage.
Beforehand, the sky had racked with knots of clouds torqued as the small lamb’s terrible face.
Wine carried in jugs spilled magnificently across a dirt floor; the shape it took; the way it spread, slowly, & with conviction.
Portent warm & heady in the hands of a duststormed deity.
He’d windswept the altar to make ready for his guest, watched his master draw honey from a dry stump, grew weary of diurnal forms in favor of other pleasures.
He had shaken before the embodiment of God, stood vigilant before an avatar carrying the whole varied world in a single mustard seed.
He filled three ledgers with abstract but sound advice, advised his companions to Plaster the streets of the body with intellect & olive oil.
His figures on papyrus took on winds of their own.
He took thorough notes with a trembling hand.
Erin M. Bertram is the author of five chapbooks, including The Urge to Believe Is Stronger than Belief Itself (Cherry Pie Press, 2008), Body of Water (Thorngate Road, 2007), which received the Frank O’Hara Award, and Febrile (Achiote Press, forthcoming). She is editor of Shadowbox Press. (12/2008)