"Mary Magdalene"

Jesus Christ is a holy man, yes. But he is also incredibly beautiful in this chapter from "The Erotica Project."

Published February 6, 2001 8:16PM (EST)

Now, Nazareth is a hot little desert town and I am a young beautiful girl, ambitious and intelligent. And I need something in my life. I need truth. I need passion. I have a heart so big it hurts.

I hear about a man with dark eyes and a voice like raw honey. I hear he talks from the tops of mountains. I hear he preaches in a grove of olive trees, and the multitudes fall to their feet. I hear he's dangerous, and I know that I am already in love with him. I see him on Saturday. He stands in the river.

It is early morning and the light hits the water and enshrines his figure in gold. It is obvious, painfully obvious, that he is blessed, obvious that he is different. Jesus Christ is a holy man, yes. But he is also incredibly beautiful. And I don't care how he came into this life. I don't care who his mother is or who his father is -- I just know that I have found what I have been looking for all my life. Love. I have found love. And by the way he looks at me, I know it is mutual. He walks up to me, and I don't know if it is a trick of the morning light, but he walks on the water. Not through it, but on it.

He asks if I am thirsty.

"If only you knew how thirsty I am. I could drink all the water in this river. I could open my mouth and swallow the whole of you and the river and still want more."

He smiles. Takes my hand and leads me into the water. Kisses me. I feel his right hand on my breast, the other in the small of my back. Now it is late afternoon and the sky is pink and orange, and his hand moves up inside my robe and I am visited by a spirit so hot and so holy, I can't stand up. I can't breathe. I swear I can't breathe.

"If only you knew how thirsty I am."

He reaches up and unfastens his robe and it drops into the river. It floats alongside us, a piece of blue silk on the cool river. I kneel down and take the Son of God into my mouth. And he is sweet. I taste the tree of life, I bite into the apple, I suck the honey from the hive. I open my eyes and see twelve men watching us from the riverbank. I don't like the look in their eyes. But he doesn't seem to notice or care. He can't stop kissing me. And when he does, he says my name:

"Mary Magdalene."

Then he leads me into a grove of olive trees, pushes me up against a tree, parts my knees with his head of thick black hair so his tongue can enter me.

"Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God."

I am so blessed. I am so in love. But it is a mistake to ignore the twelve men watching from the riverbank. I know somewhere deep in my soul that it is a mistake, but I can't stop. I watch miracles unfold before my eyes, yet every night he joins me in my bed. I see him between my legs, his long black hair fanned like feathers across my breasts. We are mortal. We are fallible. And we are in love. Except, one morning, I walk to the well for water and I hear:


An ugly word, utterly without grace or redemption. And I know it is the work of the Twelve Apostles.

"Whore" reverberates every time I enter a room, drink a glass of wine, or stop for food. It's a small word uttered by small men. One morning, I am walking through the market and soon I am followed by an angry crowd. The hissing and whispering sound like a nest of vipers. I know what they want from me. They want me dead. I turn to face them -- but he suddenly appears, picks up a stone, and says:

"Let anyone of you who is without sin cast the first stone."

I am not a whore and I have never been a whore, but it is too late. We escape to the hot Nazarene desert -- we know we don't have much time; I can see it in his eyes. For forty days and forty nights we eat dried figs, drink red wine, and make love with a fury that sends the devil back down to hell. But when we return from the desert, everything has changed drastically. His best friend betrays him -- and leads him into the hands of his enemies. He whispers in my ear:

"Where I am going, I am going alone."

And then he kisses me. The next time I see him, he is dragging a cross through a crowded street, and the blood drips like a scarlet river -- he sees me and smiles. My love, the great love of my life, is crucified on a cross, his beautiful body twisted and bleeding. And his Twelve Apostles can do nothing to stop this.

It is no mistake that I see him first when he rises from the dead. It is no mistake. I see it in a dream -- he walks into my room and tells me to wait at the tomb. He says to me:

"You gave me life everlasting."

I awaken the next morning while the sky is still gray. As he rises from the sepulchre, I know he is no longer human, but I am not afraid. His skin is cold as he places me on the rocks just as the sun begins to rise over his pale body. His skin is cold but his lips are warm. He whispers in my ear:

"Take me while I still have time."

I close my eyes and suck until the light of morning spreads through my limbs, until he sighs and screams and wakes up the birds in the olive grove. He rises from the rock of the sepulchre and walks west into town. I know I will pass into history as the whore in his life -- but in truth I was his love, his lover, and his wife.

By Lillian Ann Slugocki

Lillian Ann Slugocki is coauthor, with Erin Cressida Wilson, of "The Erotica Project."

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