red tent

  האדום האוהל Ha Adom Ohel: The Red Tent – Poem by John C. Mannone

She heard rumors about him:
there’s always a demon
to cast out, the sick as hell
to heal.

He spoke to the multitude
as she sought him out,
shuffled through crowds,

pale, anemic from so much blood
loss, her immune system weak.
No more money. No medicine

to quell hormones, no steroids
to regulate fibroid cysts
running amuck for twelve years.

The young woman, banished to a place
made of goat hair and dyed badger skins
—the Red Tent—as if a leper

exiled from her people, shame gushing
from her flowers more than a decade—
a reproach to men, deemed unclean

by the Religiosity. Even her husband
could not touch her.
He left long ago.

Only in the privacy of her prison
did she find solace; she tabernacle
with G_d.

She was thirsty
in the dry heat of the desert,
in the arid hopelessness.

But he was relentless in healing.
When she touched him
on the fringe of his garment,

power rushed out of him,
and into her
as if an everlasting water.

He called her daughter,
as if a Daughter of Aaron—
order of the high priesthood.

~~~

A leader of the synagogue knelt
at his feet, begged for the life
of his daughter. Jairus wore a prayer

shawl too, yet powerless without Him.
What faith! The Christ was arrested
from healing this girl-child,

who was quickly dying, because he felt
compelled to stop and heal the woman
with the issue of blood

before he could slip into her red tent,
quarantined because she was dead.
He called her daughter, too: Pa-is,
servant of the king.

For twelve years, Jairus’ child,
a young maiden who also fought
disease, perhaps leukemia—

white cell phagocytes with no
regard for her life. But Jesus
in his white robe, with a scarlet

prayer shawl draped over her,
a private tabernacle, sprinkled the blood
of the Lamb, touching her,
quickening her dead bones.

~~~

Both daughters healed.
Both resurrected.
There was good blood between them,

His.

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has work in Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Plough, Windhover, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene's Fountain, Poetica Magazine and others. He’s the winner of the 2017 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature and the recipient of two Weymouth writing residencies. He has three poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing), nominated for the 2017 Elgin Book Award; Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press) featured at the 2016 Southern Festival of Books; and Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing). He’s been awarded two Joy Margrave Awards for Nonfiction and nominated for several Pushcart, Rhysling, and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other venues. He’s professor of physics near Knoxville, TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

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