In the Office: It Was on the Wednesday

It was on the Wednesday
that they called him a wasteful person.

The place smelled like the perfume department
of a big store.

It was as if somebody had bumped an elbow
against a bottle
and sent it crashing to the floor,
setting off the most expensive stink bomb on earth.

But it happened in a house,
not a shop.

And the woman who broke the bottle
was no casual afternoon shopper.
She was the poorest of the poor,
giving away the only precious thing she had.

And he sat still
while she poured the liquid all over his head…
as unnecessary as aftershave
on a full crop of hair and a bearded chin.

And those who smelled it,
and those who saw it,
and those who remembered
that he was against extravagance,
called him a wasteful person.
They forgot
that he also was the poorest of the poor.

And they who had much
and who had given him nothing,
objected to a pauper giving him everything.

Jealousy was in the air
when a poor woman’s generosity
became an embarrassment to their tight-fistedness…

That was on the Wednesday,
when they called him a wasteful person.

For Holy Week, I’m sharing a series of poems that come from Stages on the Way, a book of worship resources for the Easter season prepared by the Iona Community, a Christian ecumenical community headquartered in Scotland and devoted to peace and social justice.

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