Then Mary took a pint of nard
in an Egyptian alabaster jar;
she snapped its slender neck, and poured
its oily sweetness on Thy head
and on Thy feet, and wiped them with her hair;
the scent o’erpowered all the feasters there.
Mary was rich; a rich gift she could bring
as if Thou wert a dead man or a king.
And rich, too, was Thy friendship to her kin:
the hours she spent drinking Thy kind voice in,
Thy visits to their house in Bethany,
sweetness of knowing Thee.
Most recently, Thou raised her brother too –
and so she searched for something she could do.
She smears Thy head with pure and fragrant nard;
it is no purer than Thy head.
She hears, not heeding, tongues wag in the gloom;
Thou’st told her priests are plotting for Thy doom,
and she believes.
But at this feast
the oil of gladness she’s released
caring only to see Thou smilest at it
and hearing Thy pronouncement that ‘tis fit
for this dark week, when off to death Thou ride …
And when they pierce Thy hands, and feet, and side,
to high priest, Herod, Pilate, Calvary
her fragrant gratitude shall go with Thee
and powerful though silent witness bring
that Thou art a dead man and a king.