Lazarus Syndrome

by Michael Shewmaker

After your death, the coroner
             leaned close to lift your wrist,
                           the way I might have on
the night we last made love.
             The screens of the machines
                           went blank. I don’t know why
I held my breath. He hummed
             an old hymn, lit the lamp
                           beside you. When he checked
his watch and knew there’d be
             no miracle—he wrote
                           a note and covered you.

Only a week ago,
             lying in bed together,
                           you asked if I had heard
the doubtful version of
             the miracle. You said
                           that some say Lazarus
could sing like Orpheus,
             that he lulled God himself
                           to sleep, that in his tomb
he found a deeper key,
             a tone that pleased him, though
                           he was alone.

                                                     And when,
you said, he heard his name
             behind him, as if from
                           the dark wake of his song,
he turned to see his friend
             robed in unbearable light,
                           and sang, Clay steals the clay,
before he lost his voice,
             before he woke into
                           his savior’s arms that raised
him up. You said that it
             was Lazarus who wept—
                           who would not rest for years.

Published on August 27, 2020