I am an ancient gardener,
Philogenes by name –
Though Adam I have called myself
Since to this land I came.
In Zion I was born and raised,
While not so far from me
The one they now call Christ the Lord
Grew up in Galilee.
In truth I never met the man,
Despite my Christian boss,
A Pharisee, who loaned the tomb
When died he on the cross.
Nor do I know if Yeshu saw
Himself as Son divine,
Instead of mortal prophet who
Should hubris undermine.
The day he died I was away,
I always fled the crowd
That thronged the city at the Feast
And pushed, and pulled, and rowed.
On Sabbath, though, I overheard
The body had been laid
Within the very tomb behind
A lettuce bed I’d made.
Apparently a multitude
Had come to view the cave:
Just then the only thought I had
Was how those plants to save.
It took all day to walk back home,
I got there late at night;
At four I rose and stealthily
Approached that dreaded site.
In twilight dim, without delay
I moved the casualties;
From compost pit I then beheld
A woman on her knees.
I scrambled out, but off she sped
Before I could her call;
When heard I voices soon fast by,
I hid behind a wall.
The woman now was with two men,
And to the cave they rushed;
I watched while more prize lettuces
Were felled, or split, or crushed.
I held my breath as they unrolled
The stone along its groove;
“He has arisen!” someone cried.
I was too stunned to move:
For if they thought an empty tomb
Meant resurrection plain –
Instead of, say, removal sly –
The crowds would come again.
Yet this was not my only dread,
I feared the Christian mind;
And time has shown I was correct
To leave it all behind.
While Jewish groups deem Christ became
The Son of God above,
Some proselytes appear to think
That God bore flesh for love.
Thus, step by step, in psychic terms
The Name is yielding power
To man, who in the sombre tale
Erects the Babel Tower.
Moreover, every Christian dreams
Of dark apocalypse:
For he well knows unconsciously
God’s world he would eclipse.
O let us heed our primal myth,
Which serves the flesh and soul,
Where earth’s the garden of the Lord
And he who loves it whole.
1 January 2000