Mark 12:22

All the seven died and left no family. The woman herself died last of all.

we live under the tutelage
of one fairy story or another
to tell your totem
is as revealing
as your personal name

we are sure we are
a dismissed third child
overlooked and under-valued
who by dint of empathy
finds a way through

and then we find we are
a fourth or fifth
even a sixth
resigned forever
another doomed failure

perhaps lucky number seven
will bring a charmed life back
and all generations will rejoice
when we hear those words
for such a time as this . . .

but no
some tasks
are unfinished
no matter
who tries

One by one the brothers wear themselves out trying to make their brother’s image live. Pygmalion had a much easier time. In George Bernard Shaw’s telling, there is no happy ending marriage between Henry and Eliza, just as there is no happy ending of progeny here.

All six substitute brothers are said to λαμβάνω (lambanō, take something in order to use it) the woman. This is added information to see this as a property transaction. Who owns whom is an ongoing issue as old as Cain.

The treatment of women as property continues. As this is being written, The United Methodist Church attempted to modify their constitution to affirm the importance of “women’s and girls’ equality and well-being.” While receiving a 66.5% positive vote, it failed the two-thirds needed. Women are still going to their grave having been ranked and treated as a commodity.

Mark’s readers are being asked to wonder about religious rules that only benefit some as this will be part of a needed response. Can anyone other than a “son” deconstruct a patriarchal system? Yes.

The specifics of this story come to an inglorious end. The only end is that of suffering and death for all. There is some of this unsatisfactory ending that will conclude Mark, but that is another story for another time. For now we simply come to terms with that which doesn’t end well.

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