Ars Poetica

My Benedictine Sister
says it’s hard not to be Judas-minded.
I ask her if she means betrayal.

No, not that, she says, everyone
betrays. Remember the broken perfume
bottle? How Mary wipes her Lord’s feet

with her hair? It’s Judas who reminds
the crowd how many bellies might’ve
been filled by selling her perfume.

It’s Judas who sees only suffering,
recognizes no value in anointing—
when there’s so much work

to be done. Mary shows us beauty’s
got no mother in this world,
save those who anoint.

Sister Eunice tells me suffering wins
when we look away from the broken
bottle. I tell her, I am glad poets

waste what’s beautiful.


Lauren K Carlson is a poet and spiritual director living in Dawson,MN. In 2016 she released Pocket Poems, a collection of original poems & illustrations printed on antique letterpress. She is the host of Poems from the Field, a PBS web series that uses poetry as a point of entry into conversations with rural Americans about creativity, spirituality, and meaning. More at