Mise en Tombeau (1)

“Transport”, Canterbury Cathedral

Maude Larke


Maude Larke has come back to her own writing after working in the American, English, and French university systems, analyzing others’ texts and films.  She has also returned to the classical music world as an ardent amateur after fifteen years of piano and voice in her youth.  Winner of the 2011 PhatSalmon Poetry Prize and the 2012 Swale Life Poetry Competition, she has been published in Oberon, Naugatuck River Review, Cyclamens and Swords, Mslexia, Cliterature, and Short, Fast, and Deadly, among others.




It levitates

(like him?)

quite still

under vaults

over an erstwhile place

made more sacred


under tons

of cruciform dedication

properly oriented

to sunrise, sunset. 


There is no attempt

to correspond

to our notions

of symmetry

in the angle

of flotation. 


The figure itself

can be placed. 


The nails

have multiplied


so many

and they point in. 


How does

his presence

mark the absent Thomas? 

How call him back?

How etch him out

below that hovering? 


The link

is cobwebby


in that Thomas’s

blood is seen

as answering

to Jesus’s. 


Both have dried. 

One a red-written name

under three truncated

swords eaten

by their culpability. 


The other still

painted, mosaicked,




almost salaciously

but long since

left unpreserved. 


Both are bodiless since.

Thomas shattered

by the brute violence

of his turning out –

démise du tombeau

the burning of his bones

the vacating

of criminality

by criminality 


Jesus (by legend)

left hanging


a theoretical

and altogether vague


Rebodied?  Maybe not. 


But here, now,

left a sketch



a mere

nerve network



like aspirin in water

and too immobile

for orbit. 


The traditional sculptures –

mises en tombeau

show the dead

(for now) Jesus

handled and half-lying


his nearest ones





This one shows him



laid under the slab.



He has yet to reach

to push the stone

to curl the fingers

over the lips

of that macabre basin. 


And we cannot

trace a grimace

in that cocked-back

mesh of face. 

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