Washing Feet

When I read of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet,
I always remember working on bronze sculpture,
how it involved all five senses,
and how painstakingly Joachim shaped
Jesus’ hand on Peter’s foot.
On my hand I can still feel the beeswax
melted by charcoal fire and the clay
of donkey dung and termite dirt we packed
around the finished beeswax statues.
Once the clay molds sundried, we lit a fire
to melt the wax from them, leaving hollow
channels to fill with liquid bronze.
I liked to hold the molds on tongs
and pour the heated wax into the water.
At night, we filled the molds
with bronze heated in the kiln,
and then left them to glow red until sunrise.
Breaking clay, we’d find our statues,
and the earth where they had rested until morning
was warm like the spot where an animal has rested.

Yes, I would like to call back a hundred memories
to the touch of clay and the smell of beeswax,
but when I hear melted wax sizzle into water,
I think of how Jesus took Peter’s foot in hand
to soothe his ankle and wash it in water,
and how each day Joachim bent over the work-table
to shape Jesus’ body daily bending to wash Peter’s foot.

1983

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