(for Karen Swallow Prior)
When godliness indeed meant cleanliness,
the godly proudly washed in temple pools.
Their need to wash they hastened to confess–
and it was taught in many godly schools.
Not so with scoundrels, profligates, and fools:
these were the creatures of dishonest scents.
They violated all the godly rules
and then relied on perfumes as events
proceeded from transgression. How immense
their self-deception was in those dark days!
Still, in the end, transcendence proved intense:
Christ shed his blood for those who walked this maze
–and, hardly mindful of aloof commands,
sly Pontius Pilate washed his bloody hands.