Guanajuato: The Lazarus Conceit
In Guanajuato, Mexico, the bodies of people whose loved ones could not afford the grave tax were exhumed and hung on pegs. They lined a white hall, withered, brown, and mummified from the dry sand in which they were buried. Like all mummies, they seemed almost alive.
-The pain of rebirth is surely greater
than the pain of death -the soul driven and drawn,
both, from the darkness into the shrouded dark
of a rejuvenating body, the whole
body a mad cancer turning back decay.
And the body must shudder as the spirit
reenters, not like the gentle death-shudder -
the inrush of emptiness as the spirit
slips away must be easy, as water fills
a footprint in a bog. But then in reverse -
the emptiness must be forced out: it does not
go willingly: it has no good where to go.
They are no men or women, as monks and
nuns one day become only sexless saints -
all are thin, bald, shrouded in their cassocks,
limbs drawn in solemn benedictory
death, legs dangling in near-ascension,
arrested with submission between states -
These abbots and sisters in their raisin unlife
have become new without Lazarus' agony.
The church once held sacred the human bones of saints
as though a residue of righteousness remained~
but none have been reborn since Lazarus and Christ.