Andrew Hudgins is a contemporary American poet, a sort of Southern mix between the sly wit of Billy Collins and a (sometimes irreverent, sometimes flat-faced) awareness of the holy. The following poem is representative of Hudgins' ability to see what others do not, particularly the numinous in apparently base places, but spoken with unflinching language. My own afterward is nothing of the sort, romanticism and sparseness summoning all that I can of Li-Young Lee and Wendell Berry. I hope I succeeded.
[Update: I have taken down poems I am in the process of submitting for publication. I apologize for the confusion and/or inconvenience!]
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Mary Magdalene's Left Foot
By Andrew Hudgins
I saw the picture in Newsweek or Time
and couldn't believe who was back in the news.
But there it sat, encased in antique gold
and pedestrian prose, apart from the rest
of her imaginably lush lost body,
which it recalls with false synecdoche.
The news is littered with the bodies of women
-- whores, some -- who have returned to minerals,
a pile of iron and zinc and calcium
that wouldn't even fill a shoe. We glimpse
of Mary Magdalene a golden whole
that never ached for flesh or grew hair coarse
enough to scrub mud from a traveler's foot.
But gold is meretricious flattery
for the whore who washed Christ's feet with tears,
who rubbed sweet oil into his sores, then kissed
each suppurating wound that swelled his flesh,
knowing that it was God's clear flesh beneath
its human dying. And that is more than you or I
will ever know of where we place our lips.