Eureka Springs

by Jude Goodwin
The Waters
First Place, January 2010
Judged by Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar

Now that’s a big Jesus
and it’s not how I know him at all.
Imagine living under someone’s father
image like that, looks like
he’s blocking the door. “I do this
for you, my son.” Look mister,
I’m hankering for East. I’ve done
the Berlin Wall slab, the Liberty
replica, time’s come for passing
the great white milk carton. The real
Jesus never grew old and he was skinny.
I held him once, in college. I could feel
his ribs. His heart hammered
like a ruby-throated hummingbird,
I felt the wind from his wings
for years. This big theme park
messiah, unrevolving and without
an elevator, this isn’t Jesus.
It’s his body guard. It’s the man
blocking the tunnel down
to the bomb shelters. It’s the guy
who won’t let you into the ER
to watch your mother die. It’s the cop
who holds you back on the grass
as your friends and ex-wife move
all your belongings out of the house
and into a cube van, it’s the shape
you make on the cellar floor
where you wait for the end.
The real Jesus played guitar,
bending his body around the music
like a gourd. His skin was brown
and smelled of cinnamon.

Eureka Springs is a glorious re-envisioning of the famous 2 million pound mortar and steel statue of Jesus of the Ozarks. We're enamored of the way this poem takes the familiar image of Jesus, welcoming arms outstretched, and transforms the gesture to reveal our more earthly and unholy fathers, though in the end, returns the messiah to a humble and ultimately human figure. --Joseph Millar & Dorianne Laux