Mary’s House—Ephesus

By Jeanine Stevens

There are places which although we did
not stay long . . . call us back like a sacrament.
—Dana Gioia

 

Far from the ocean and trade routes

we climb the hill to seclusion.

 

Vines and local shrubs green the landscape.

A safe haven where the apostle John took Mary

to live a life removed from danger.

 

In the small chapel, a few Muslims have arrived

before us, and lie prostrate before Mary’s shrine.

They honor the mother of Jesus as they honor

mothers of all prophets.

 

I think about my own devotion

and spotty church attendance.

 

I press through crowds to taste holy water

place my request note in a chink of the wall.

 

Touristy, yes. But there I feel the memory

of hospitality, a dwelling within.

 

I did not find her bed of stone.

 

___

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis, and has an M.A. in Anthropology. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt and one of two finalists for the William Stafford Prize. Author of Sailing on Milkweed, her latest chapbook is “Needle in the Sea,” from Tiger’s Eye Press. Poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Evansville Review, Pearl, North Dakota Review, Perfume River, Alehouse and Quercus Review.


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