Post Modern Meets The Savior

The poem below entitled Talitha cumi is fascinating in it’s allusions to the gospel. The title comes from the words of Jesus to Jarius’ daughter on her death bed, “Get up little girl” (a phrase of Aramaic preserved in the original Greek text). There are only a few examples of the very language of Jesus in the text but these tender words are enshrined here.

However, there are only to shreds of the Gospel, traces of the good news to be found here. There is a deep desire for love, and ultimately all desire is a desire for God, but here it is beyond one’s reach.

Talitha cumi

An ekphrasis on D.T. Malboeuf’s She is Love, I Am Dust
© 2007 Lloyd D. Graham
All rights reserved.

This is no easy trump…
Pleasure and pain, perhaps,
Freshly raised from the dead?
A dark card, at any rate:
A gamma in reverse, but
Capital, like the punishment itself;
A gibbet for the hanged man.

She will not meet your gaze, being
Intent upon her semi-crucifixion
Blessed in unlikely snow. And so
This street-light sheds both
Blood and water, mixed
Into an endless world, as though
Fulfilling a rainbow vow.

Her level half-hand gives
A brave benediction. Perhaps a
Semaphore healing is what we all need, so
The one-winged angel must bleed.


Always she looks to her right, unmoved,
Like a Sistine figure reaching out
To an absent God; a salute that nonetheless
Keeps lovers at arm’s length. She cannot know
How her left hand betrays her right, being
Pricked within by the thorns of desire:
A Magdalene undone sub rosa cum cera.

Alone, in atonement she stands
Priapic in penitence. Spare
The anvil of the world: love
Should not pay the price for dust.

The Gioconda of the Laundry
May have to hold her pose forever,
So, cold, she waits;
Patiently, with blushing cheeks,
With rosy eyes and cyan lips, she
Guards her arcane gestation,
Guiding a miracle towards birth.


Sing, child, of right and wrong,
Tell of the voices in your head; with
Past and future hidden in your hands
You say it all, and leave it all unsaid.


This poem is an ekphrasis whose subject is a work painted in 1990 by Daniel Malboeuf, a surrealist based in North Carolina. The painting is not well known, but can be viewed online at the artist’s virtual gallery, where he uses the screen-name ‘kolaboy’: