Saturday, April 08, 2006

of gardeners and ghosts

holding viriginia, sally mann
people say so many things with their faces. so many silent conversations all around me all the time. catching the bus. waiting for the doctor. eating at a restruant. their eyebrows, cheeks, smiles, necks, eyelashes. there's some phrases for these conversations. you can make eyes at someone. look in a daze. give the evil eye. look like you've seen a ghost....
so. when writing a book or telling a story or history, its difficult to explain those conversations of the face..the fable. the moral. the summary isn't there. so the story is skipped for more catchy hook lines...jesus is known to many, as a good storyteller, a teacher, a revolutionary. his words surface in mouths of ordinary people, christian people, people who wouldn't be caught dead if they realized they were refrencing jesus...jesus! the golden rule. oh my god! god bless you! i love you.
but what of the looks between jesus and someone else where there were no words, no stories to document. id like to talk about those. i think there are many of them. the look of well drinkers and money spenders. the look of rabbis and of his mother after pulling his splinter. the look of peter. like he knew it was coming and couldn't help himself. the look of judas. there against his face all chapped lips and change rattling. all of these people find jesus' looks to be comforting, haunting, human. and theres others. and one in partiular that, dare i say, catches my eye. that points to this look-like-you've-seen-a-ghost expression and mary's blue eyed blubbering at a tomb that was regretably (for her and at the moment) empty. i think there a wonderful secret shared and something else mary remembers and can't write in words. because she is a woman and good at keeping secrets and because words would never do for this.
mary thinks jesus is the gardener beginning with his feet. gardeners have those same dirty toes and ragged sandals and worked brown back muscles and faces like..but he is not the gardener and mary knows it. for a moment, face turning white to match his robes. supposing him to be her imagination. her overextended hope. her ghost. until she finds his face. recognizes his the way his nose and cheek twitches when he gets sand in his eyes, his cracked lips from all those stories he told her. his scar just beneath and to the left of his chin she would notice, those many times he would looks at the clouds and would wonder where it came from, his freckles. color comes back to her face, he is not a ghost. he is comfortable and familiar and safe for her and at the moment. and then he tells her, mary, im leaving and i can't stay and i will be gone soon. i think mary tries to understand. for christ's sake. for her own. lines her eyes close against his. so they share things like smells and rustling of clothes. like saying, i will forget you and you will be papyrus and paintings before long. and i will weep for things like dirt and gardeners who turn out to be just gardeners and all those white sheets i wake up in. because i can't help myself and that's how it is, with me. she fills her eyes with promises and this picture she sees him in and lets him go. (a picture is worth a thousand words). i understand you mary.

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