Tommy's twin brother Jesus



Windy, same as usual. Shivering daffodils, huddled crocuses.
Sunbursts that are essentially a dark joke. Spattering of moist
Proto-hail, says our sister, who will eventually become a nun.
Funny that we remember single words spoken forty years ago.
The huddle of shoulders in pews, the hands held out for Hosts.
The rich russet scent of raincoats and overcoats and umbrellas.
The slight polite hesitation as someone looks to lift the kneeler.
The way everyone kneels except the very old and the surgicals.
The clasps pinning down mantillas and veils and white scarves.
The burly theater of it all, the ancient tidal rise and fall and ebb
And startling resurrection against all sense and patent evidence.
The awful genius of the faith is that it is so much more and less
Than religion; we have no choice but to insist on a resurrection,
And choose one among us to drag a cross, and then leap from it
And emigrate, but not before collecting documentary witnesses;
Otherwise we are all merely walking compost, and where is the
Fun in that, not to mention why not commit crimes twice daily?
And at the other end of the spectrum, not one soul on that rainy
Easter morning long ago cared a whit about theological matters.
They did not even care if the thin man once died and rose again.
They were there, in clans and tribes and couples, for each other,
Out of respect and affection, and habit and custom, and because
They wanted to give their children a thing they couldn't explain
Very easily, something to run away from and later back towards,
Something insistent that didn't make sense then and still doesn't.
Something you can easily disprove and can never actually prove,
Which is basically the point. We cover it with smoke and money,
With vestments and learned commentary, with visions and edicts,
But under the cloth there is only wild hope, to which we give His
Face, sitting there by the lake quietly eating baked fish and bread.
At the end of the meal we walked out into the rain, singing badly.

's twin brother

Because there were not only the four regular gospels, you know,
There were lots of others, all jostling and elbowing for the Book.
There was the Gospel of Thomas, which begins Here are hidden
Words that Jesus spoke as written down by his twin brother Tom,
Also called Didymos. Also there was Mary Magdalene's Gospel,
Which is missing its first six pages but then asks a good question,
Will matter be destroyed or not? and Tommy's twin brother says,
All nature, all creatures exist in and with each other and they will
Be resolved again into their own roots, which is really interesting
If you think in terms of no energy lost and reincarnation and such,
Although it sounds like something someone says after seven beers.
Also he says everyone has the exact same line to God because He,
Tom's twin brother, is in everyone, which, if he's right, sure shuts
Up a lot of religious idiots about owning the only toll road to God.
Also there is the gospel of Judas, which says that poor pained man
Was only doing what Tom's brother wanted him to do, which was
Free him from his earthly vessel, so all could go according to plan;
And there is the Gospel of the Hebrews, which says Tom's brother
Was born two months early, which explains why he was so skinny;
And there is the Gospel of Philip, where it says he who is, has been
And shall be, which sure echoes what the voice in the burning bush
Says, which is I am who am, that's a line from the Book of Exodus,
Which is not a gospel. Are you following all this? You are puzzled?
Look, the point is that there are a lot of stories about Tom's brother,
And to think that only four of them apply is to shutter the windows
When the sunlight is pouring in. Maybe all of them apply somehow.
Maybe they apply at different times. Maybe there's shreds of genius
In all of them. Maybe we should listen for Tom's brother in all sorts
Of places. Maybe there are lots more gospels all ready to be written.
I mean, he was blunt that he was in everyone, why not go with that?

Brian DoyleBrian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of Thirsty for the Joy: Australian & American Voices. 

Topic tags: new poems, brian doyle, easter



submit a comment

Existing comments

Brian, bloody brilliant! You make me want to shout out the hope that is in all of us

Mike | 21 April 2011  

Was Didymos the same fella who wanted to be sure Jesus had a scar in his tummy- and was he the same fella who went off to announce the good news along the banks of the Ganges?

graham patison | 24 April 2011  

Similar Articles

Christian and Muslim bullets and blood

  • Tim Kroenert
  • 21 April 2011

Nawal, disgraced and exiled from her Christian village for an affair with a Muslim man, conceals her crucifix and hitches a ride on a bus laden with Muslims. Shortly, the bus is halted by a squadron of bloodthirsty Christian militants.


Gospel bit players

  • Philip Harvey
  • 21 April 2011

The conventional homily on the miracle of the lame man focuses on his faith and hope. But Irish poet Seamus Heaney draws attention to the faith, hope and charity of the man's friends, who will go to any trouble to help their mate in his hour of need.



Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up