We told him the story as we ourselves had heard:
big party at the palace, music, wine,
Herod’s niece gets up to dance … and she’s beautiful,
wearing a gown thin as web, rattling
a tambourine above her head. The King’s face is
bright red from drinking, but his eyes follow every move.
She finishes, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t give her.
She turns down jewelry, wants John’s head on a platter.
We tried to tell Jesus what it’s like at the palace,
how a King’s word is binding, how the guests demand it;
but some said Herod didn’t have to do it,
and others said there’d been no prophecy.
Then Jesus asked the strangest thing:
“Where is John’s head?”
We didn’t know, and how should we answer?
We’d all heard him speak to the crowds
in parables. Did he mean John’s head
as in John’s head? Or did he mean
John’s head as in John’s leader? In that case
we might have said, “You, Lord.”
But maybe he meant the place
John’s thoughts came nearest to, and
the answer would be simple: “Heaven.”Â …