In Bethany sup the newly
dead and those about to

die. Mary the air perfumes
with a pound of ointment of

spikenard, very costly; on
his feet rubs it, with locks.

“Let her alone,” says the man,
“for the poor always
ye have with you.”


I know your hair's smell
and the weight of each breast; 
the exact spot where the fine fur starts,
tracing a line down your belly.

Your sister is a raven
entangled in my locks.
She would dive and
peck out your eyes.

But stay, sweet one.
Curl right where you are.
Kneel one moment longer.

Your hair corrals my
throbbing feet — no one
can see they are

no longer dirty.


—Tiffany Lee Brown

Original version anthologized in The Human Growth Experiment, Water Line Press, Bainbridge Island, Washington, 2005.
New version circa 2018: addition of italicized prologue.