Traci Brimhall

Parable of Love’s Twelve Apostles

You can find one in the arsonist who collects boxes of burnt matches. One in the parishioners who stick their hands in coat pockets, pricking their fingers on splinters of a crucifix. Another joins the crowd with closed eyes and raised hands trying to reach a sacred statue. Another sleeps in the statue that collapses on those who worship it.

Others hide in the scars on a horse’s back. They shake pagan trees as their roots seek a darker earth. They crawl inside caskets piled with roses and into the winter carolers refuting grief. One is in the song that tells a slave how to escape. The ground sings, This way. The heart says, Follow it.

You can also find one with the man in his room painting a sparrow he killed so he might see the divine specifics of feather, beak, wing. One even smiles on the stage where a woman is bound and the crowd cries out for her death. The exultant apostle knows love is the boy in attendance, holding his father’s hand. Love is the baker selling bread to the hangman. And love is the sun in the witch’s hair.

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, forthcoming), winner the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series First Book Award. She’s currently a doctoral candidate at Western Michigan University.