I’ve been writing since I was eight, despite being told that I shouldn’t. Writing revealed too much. This is why I tell my students they should never be afraid to put the truth on the page. I’m a community college English professor, who alternately loves and despairs of her students. I’ve written lots of different things—newspaper columns, academic stuff, poems (including two chapbooks and a forthcoming full-length collection) and a couple of mystery novels, one of which will be published this spring by Barking Rain Press. I have the very great pleasure of serving the town of Norwalk, Connecticut, as its poet laureate. At this very moment, my dog is sniffing through my trash for a draft of something to chew on. My website: www.laurelpeterson.com
The Museum of Jesus' House
Pristine like Monticello,
a desert oasis slopes
to a large saltwater pond.
Young women with carts
pulled by donkeys
plant flowering cacti, feed fish.
Inside the house sits the casket
in which water turned to wine,
the whip used to drive moneychangers
from the temple.
Over here, an airplane hanger houses the boat
Peter and his brothers sailed on Galilee.
Suspended in salted humidity,
it swings ever-so-slightly
each time the air-locked doors open.
II. Gift Shop
The following items are also available online:
“Mary’s Foot Basin”/Calvin Klein “Anointed” set;
Martha’s recipe for herb bread in a handy prepackaged mix;
Israeli desert sandals and 100% cotton white robes;
pulsating license plate holder, “This Car Saw Jesus”;
10-inch high replica of Jesus’ jail cell
with a wax cast guard; carpenter’s tool kits;
A Physicist’s Look at Walking on Water;
pair of gold vials holding frankincense and myrrh;
small pieces of the cross (real wood laminate on a pressboard core).
Long lines of people wait, baking,
for the tour guide in his white robes,
shining chestnut hair, gleaming beard.
Fingerprinting glass cabinets
that hold His rope sash, stepping
on ground where they hope He stepped
hoping for a touch of the divine,
a brush against His robe,
they come to stare, to picnic,
to eat the concession’s
“Feeding the Five Thousand” Fish Sandwich
or plain grape jelly on white bread,
Onto the late afternoon hillside,
under a cloud like a boat floating
on the deep blue sky,
strides another bearded docent
to reenact the Sermon on the Mount,
or ten Equity card carriers to render
the betrayal in Gethsemane.
Their mouths droop;
the audience sighs
in all the right places; at twilight,
they pack their plastic
whips and goblets printed with “Holy Grail,”
and climb into the family SUV—
pockets empty, tummies full—
all in all a satisfactory visit to Jesus.
Originally published: The Atlanta Review, 2006
©2016 Laurel Peterson
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