A Poem for Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-5
Two hands and a basin
and a towel at his waist
against twenty-four feet
that had followed him this far.
 
Without his outer robe he looked
frail, tired, old almost
and they heard how his knees creaked
as he bent towards each pair of feet
sore and smelly 
calloused and hairy
cracked and dirty.
 
He never looked up,
as if feet were all that mattered.
As if he could heal the whole world
with water and a towel.
 
Philip’s, with the long scar down the ankle—
he’d never heard the story
of how Philip came by that scar.
He wouldn’t have time now.
 
Andrew’s, whose feet were so small,
with toes like walnuts
and pale stripes where his
sandals had been.
 
On and on he went,
and didn’t speak,
and didn’t preach,
and didn’t promise
anything but clean feet.
 
In his hands he nestled a foot
with long bones, and dirt
in the creases on the toes
and a bad blister on the right heel.
Half the skin torn away—blood-raw.
 
Why didn’t he tell us? he thought.
We would have slowed down,
found some wool
to pad his sandals with.
 
So he took the towel
in his hands again, and found
a clean spot, and ever so gently pressed
against the wound, and as he heard
a hiss of pain, he prayed to his Father
for one more healing miracle.
 
And a tear fell from above him,
and landed on his hand,
right in the middle,
and it must have been a trick of the light
but Judas thought it looked like blood
as he flexed his healed foot
and stared after his bent Savior
who had crept to the next
beloved disciple
with nothing to offer
but a basin and a towel
and two hands
and hope.

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