Fathom Mag

Imposition of Hands

A set of poems.

Published on:
January 30, 2023
Read time:
2 min.
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Arranging Thanks

From Luke 12:27

At dusk she gathers a bundle of bones
from the garden, long graceful
arching cotoneaster branches
bearing bright orange berries.

At dawn, she carries the bones
and the colorful souls: apricot lilies,
crimson roses and yellow mums
into the quiet still sanctuary. 

Under the shadow
of the million-dollar organ,
she places the delicate poetry of
Monet, O’Keeffe, and Christ on the altar.

She fashions the bendable bones
into a skeleton
from which the fragrant voices
can sing their silent song of praise.

She bows to worship the lilies of the field—
Emerson’s laughter of the earth—
hears the anthem all flowers sing,
one more glorious than any King.

Waterless Foot Washing

My feet are dirty and dusty,
Tired from walking Key West streets,
thirsty too. We enter a bar
where a bachelor party is underway. 

I sit down, remove my sandals
and prop my feet on a chair, when
a stranger from New Jersey holding
a beer approaches, young enough

to be my son. He looks at my feet
with concern and begins to massage
them while his friends belt out karaoke:
“I’ve Got Friends in High Places.”

As if spurred on by the music, he
says, “Hold on,” sets the beer down
and begins to massage my feet with
both hands, and I wonder if he’s

some sort of Jesus freak with short
hair who routinely performs this
sacrament as if it’s the Lord’s Supper
and everyone’s a disciple.  

Or does he only touch dirty feet
when he’s had too much to drink,
and only the feet of little old ladies
like me? Does he remember what he’s

done the next day? When he’s
satisfied that the therapy session is over,
he picks up the beer and starts to sip again,
pleased with his good deed, sings with

his buddies, “My head hurts, my feet stink
and I don’t love Jesus.” Guess he
believes in Jimmy Buffet, but where’d he
learn to massage feet like that, maybe  

in some Ash Wednesday religious service
back in Jersey? Surprised he didn’t pour
his precious beer over my feet like the perfume
Mary Magdalene used on the feet of Jesus. 

But he has no long hair to dry them with like her,
no betrayer in the bar like Judas, or crucifixion
awaiting, just a tired old lady off the street
who can buy him another beer. 

Marianne Mersereau
Marianne Mersereau is the author of the chapbook Timbrel (Finishing Line Press). Her writing has appeared in The Hollins CriticBella GraceStill Point Arts QuarterlyDeep South Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Seattle’s Poetry on BusesinScribePine Mountain Sand & GravelThe Remington Review, and elsewhere and has been selected for numerous anthologies. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia at Wise (BA) and Seattle University (MA).

Cover image by Ramiro Pianarosa.

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