The Raising of Jairus's Daughter
Margaret Mackinnon

The Raising of Jairus's Daughter

     in memory of MB, 1925-2016

You have to imagine it, as they all did:
It was as if He’d come to her
in a dream. The walls of the space
where the dead girl lay were like water,

wavering, like the reflection
of water, blue like the blue
at the beginning of night.
And the light blazed and bent

when His voice arrived, making a symbol
of sound: Talitha koum!
Little girl, I say to you, arise!

Who can know what they were thinking—

but I think she rose and they all
danced, the music her much-loved life—
and that chance to come back. Changed.
So I think, too, of Mary, another young girl,

home from college, her feet bare, ready
to dance, though she’s seated on the steps
of the great, galleried house. Her summer hours
flame in that smile—

and yes, there will be later mornings—
years when she is frail. Forgetting.
So much that will be broken.
But as if nothing were ever lost

to time, all that is luminous gathers, now,
in the hands she clasps in her lap.
Little girl, I say to you, arise!
Across Mary’s yellow fields, the sounds

of other lives—
of rain, of distance. But here with her,
these certain reassurances—
songs of a mourning dove that rise and mark the air.

Margaret Mackinnon

has contributed to Alaska Quarterly ReviewBlackbird, Los Angeles Review, and many other journals. Her first book, The Invented Child, received the Gerald Cable Book Award and the Literary Award in Poetry from the Library of Virginia. A new collection, Afternoon in Cartago, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize and will be published in 2022.