Paige Sullivan

My Father as a Series of Biblical Characters

I.  Judas

You will betray me
on Thanksgiving weekend, after we are seated—​
a family by candlelight, toasting with champagne,
coffee with homemade whipped cream. A wrist
aches from making it.
You will slip into my stepsister’s room at night,
her eyes will open like silver coins.
We will all feel rust forming in our blood,
unsure in the morning of the twinge
in our sides, why the houseplants are gray,
the source of the swinging shadow below the pines.

II.  Jonah

We will cast you into the sea.
You will throw back five years worth of letters
in cobalt glass bottles that we line along garage shelves.
Brine will seep into the ribs of the cell walls
of your benthic waiting room, where you’ll wrap your head
in seaweed, muffling the silence of that whale temple,
how it slips through waves and currents no one can follow.
Your prayers will echo off the walls, back to your ears,
for there will only be you to drown the passing days
in tallies, waiting for your surface rise and release.

III.  Lazarus

You will learn the feel of the o in atonement,
the height of the i in arising,
pause to greet the light as you emerge from the cave,
strips of cloth fluttering off your skin in hot summer wind.
You will find that a risen man walks alone.
Your eyes will meet confused faces wet with grieving,
a farewell already formed before your body’s greeting.
We already wept for the death of you. Now we witness,
with suspicion, each step you take after.

Paige Sullivan is a currently an MFA poetry candidate at Georgia State University, where she also works as a composition instructor and the poetry editor of New South. Her poetry appears in or is forthcoming from Mead, Lines + Stars, Sugared Water, and others. Her reviews and prose can be found in Rain Taxi, Bluestem Magazine, and the blog Epicure & Culture.