Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Resurrectionists

I was listening to a great episode of RadioLab the other day, and they were talking about the occupation of "resurrectionist" that sprang up with the invention of modern medical schools.  Basically, the schools needed cadavers and somebody had to go and dig them up- rich people got fancy triple-layered-and-locked "resurrectionist-proof" caskets, but the paupers' fields were more, well, accessible.  Riots ensued.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this, and wrote this poem, on my way to my wonderful Together In Ministry group meeting.

The Resurrectionists

Up all night, we toil, not understanding.
With shovels and our own weary backs, we dig for the dead.
To pick up again what everyone else wanted not-picked-up;
    we start riots because of it, and the crowds chase us.
We don't know anything but the job, the smell and ache of it.
    And our companions, beloved, dusty with the dust of graves.

Let us break every coffin: the poor woman's burlap sack
  and the rich man's velvet majesty.
Until all are risen; or until the mobs catch us.

"The church is dying," she says, "or maybe it's already dead."
That's okay with us.  Nodding, we take up our shovels.
    Dead we can work with.