Shirts or Skins, a 2014 poetry chapbook by Jim Redmond

Sleeping Jesus

I was trapped in the other tomb. The one where Jesus forgot to wake up. Slept in so late with a new body too bright to open. Slept inside the soft fruit of Himself with the rock still stuck there like a ball gag, where after four days the disciples stopped waiting and went back to dental school or took up the study of magic, dialectical materialism, the sleep cycles of locusts. Some simply consulted the tides; considered their nets a newborn silence dipped into the old silence of water. They were wet with cold fishy silence, they were dry with the hard silence of wives, they were left to the slow wean of sons. Each night they considered their own sleep and the sleep of others as a transport into His. Here, they started the short lived Church of the Sleeping Congregation, where each Sunday, tucked close to these truths, they got to sleep in. Some grew tired of this and some stayed at it. Some had strange dreams of a sleeping Messiah: an immaculate bed lifted high up over Israel, from which the Day of Rest would finally be proclaimed. Some couldn’t sleep anymore and were considered cut-off. Some began to speak abstractly of a total REM state: wherein, a whole waking life could be replaced with the disco light of hallelujahs, the heart burst open with apache missiles, psychosexual ablution. Each year, thousands began to gather around Golgotha, hoping to sleep walk their way back to the sealed tomb and awake in unison with Jesus upon their arrival. But none of this worked. He never woke up and we never slept easier.


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