The Lament of Judas Iscariot


I sold him for silver and I did not curse the Word.

I waited for the tenderness of his hand on my cheek

before I set the wolves on the lamb,

a poor shepherd indeed to the man who was mine.

I kissed him like the frost does the hopeful bud in midwinter—so reluctant—

but the wastelands are not fruitless after the frost.

Give the desert time to bloom.

I will not wait for the time of the flowers,

and this elm will bear strange fruit..

Some bless my betrayal and others curse my cruelty.

There will be no glory for the one who lost all,

though my sin birthed virtue as strong as his hand.

Lord, you know why I took what was yours in the beginning and the end

and made it mine for a little while.

Thirty silver coins ensured the price, though I wept to do it.

Thorns and dust, meat untouched at table, walk alone.

The king must die, the prince must perish,

and I must be the cause.

I listened for your command, heard clearly

when you answered in echoes my murmured prayers:

this must be so.

I shunned all hope of coming home to shore,

the fishes and the pretty wife I knew before,

men to speak good news to, nets to mend.

Lord, you ordered and I still cannot pretend

the question does not haunt me: should I have stayed my hand?

I am as the dust in the blood-heavy air

because I shrank the duty the Lord gave me.

I would not have killed this man for all men.

This bitter gall in me opposes his strange will,

and this is sin more than silver.

Will I be alone when all is gone and the good are raised?

Could the good Lord leave me so, when I must be his doing?

I damn myself to doubt him.

I must believe the Lord alone

will praise my blood-stained hands, my coins,

forgive the rope, and mourn the simple scar of my body

that hangs empty from this elm.

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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