by John Updike
Make no mistake
If he rose at all it was as his body;
If the cells’ dissolution did not reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent,
It was not as his spirit
In the mouths and fuddled eyes
Of the eleven apostles;
It was as his flesh: ours—
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart that pierced, died, paused
Then gathered again out of enduring might
New strength to enclose.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb
Make it a real angel,
Opaque in the dawn light,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta,
Robed in real linen spun on a definite loom.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Transcendence, making of the event a symbol,
A sign painted in the credulity of a vanished age;
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back:
Not papier mache, not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality
That in the slow grinding of time
Will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest awakened in an unthinkable hour
We are embarrassed by the miracle
And crushed by remonstrance.