Markings 77

December 15, 2017

Supposing Him to be the Gardener

i. Born Again – Her First Unrecorded Death


Mary Magdalen is Baptised by John in the River Jordan


a villanelle


He holds me as a cup of trembling,

from the depths of Jordan’s night,

wordless from his hands to morning.


Wars, rumours of war, plots and scheming,

I have shed seven burdens, now contrite,

he holds me as a cup of trembling.


Now a woman to His kingdom coming,

high above me clouds of nimbus light,

wordless from his hands to morning.


Galilee in golden air is shining,

in walnuts, figs and olives bright,

he holds me as a cup of trembling.


From these waters I am rising,

into the mystery of ecstatic flight,

wordless from his hands to morning.


On the crowded shore, His face I’m finding,

from the depths of Jordan’s night,

he holds me as a cup of trembling,

wordless from his hands to morning.


Jeff Guess             Page 135

 Supposing Him to be the Gardener

x. Childhood



The fingers of my free hand

silence the unwanted string

in the chord

of the small turtle-shell kinnor*

my father has bought me

for my tenth fête - with the words

‘Mary! O sing unto the Lord

a new song!’



Tonight we sleep on the flat roof

of our mud brick house.

The baked whitewashed walls

still clicking

cooling from a blistering

summer sun.

My mother tells me again

the stars are holes in a blanket

that is drawn like a mantle

over heaven.

‘And that one!’ she says ‘The Hunter!’

My bright, bright, bright – Betelgeuse,

the sharp pointer in a cold winter

cross of lights.



My father is a carpenter

and has crafted

all our sparse furniture

from an ancient fallen olive tree

a fruit bowl

and a bread board for my mother

its black and blonde fiddle-back grain

now a ravaged masterpiece

of embattled polish

risen from the tense carved ecstasy

of his blade.


Jeff Guess             Page 133


* Kinnor (Hebrew: כִּנּוֹר‎‎) is an ancient Israelite musical instrument, the exact identification of which is unclear, but in the modern day is generally translated as "harp" or "lyre"


Supposing Him to be the Gardener

xiii. Woman, Why are You Weeping?


Putting one and one together

to my mind

and in my experience

doesn’t ever make two

and nor is it easy.


He was both dead and disappeared

and I was beside myself

beside His deserted bed.


I’ve thought long and hard

as to why I didn’t recognise Him.


The tranquil gardener.


I think now of the perfected self

some of us aspire to, as He did

and just – missed it in Him: entirely.


Perhaps that’s what it was.


Afterwards Peter – petulant as ever

impulsive, promise breaker,

we never got on

asking me over and over again

who or what I saw?


I don’t know what they wrote

of what happened

in the days and weeks to come

there were many conflicting stories

some sane and some just silly

hype and hyperbole.


And as for me

I never saw Him again.

Didn’t need to

just being with Him - together

for those few, brief years


has made all the difference.


Jeff Guess            Page 136


©Jeff Guess 2017



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