By Jack Stewart
. . . it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a
needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
A scholar now says the word might be
the Hebrew for rope, which would make
more sense, but who wants a logical
metaphor, since faith makes little sense,
God is not visible, and from a distance
the outline of a camel’s hump
almost looks like crimped thread, which,
any seamstress will tell you,
is difficult to get through a needle
and is not usable for embroidery,
impossible to pull smooth into flowers,
and who would want the accurate
color of the cross on a christening gown?
I prefer a camel, a beast who can
go weeks without water, emblem of sacrifice,
who might be able to fold his front knees
like in prayer and bend his hump under,
then raise his head, lower his haunches,
and slide through. Any rider
who wanted to succeed would have
to dismount and copy that obeisance,
curve his back and touch
his forehead to the ground, kiss
the footprints of an animal
that denies itself by nature.
He would have to strip himself naked
and feel the hot metal of the eye
burn his sides as he tried to fit. If
he made it to the other side, he would
see glory is a different kind of brightness
and requires you give up even more,
the camel now just a speck in the distance,
plodding toward the horizon.
Jack Stewart was educated at the University of Alabama and Emory University and was a Brittain Fellow at The Georgia Institute of Technology. His first book, No Reason, was published by the Poeima Poetry Series in 2020, and his work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poetry, The American Literary Review, Nimrod, Image and others.
Jack's other work on Foreshadow:
The Return (Poetry, September 2023)