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So often still, tonight his hands flit,
two birds building a nest. Washing our feet.
Resting on shoulders and backs
to welcome us to the party. Alighting
on a plate of olives, a piece of fish.

He takes a whole loaf—soft
yet firm, like muscle—
warm and fragrant still
from its wood-fired baking.
He raises it, breathes in deep
the bready smell, then breaks
the loaf. Calls it his body. We swap
puzzled glances in the lamplight.

Likewise the wine, fragrant in its skin,
he pours into a cup, then lifts
and gives it a gentle swirl. Its crimson
clings to the goblet’s inner wall,
slides down in viscous little legs.
He noses a great sniff
as if lodging the aroma in memory
before embarking on a long journey.
Raises the cup, calls it his blood.

One of us—me?—will betray him, he says,
and murmurs snake around the room.
Reclining, we eat the bread, sip the wine.
Strange meal to sustain us
through the night ahead,
then through all our other days and nights.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Brent Newsom

Brent Newsom received the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in poetry from Poets & Writers, and has also won the Foley Poetry Prize from America. He wrote the libretto for A Porcelain Doll, an opera based on the life of deaf-blind pioneer Laura Bridgman, and is the author of Love’s Labors (CavanKerry Press, 2015), which was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in poetry. His poems have also appeared in Southern ReviewHopkins ReviewWindhover, Relief, and other journals.