Skip to content →

Two Halves of the Skull of John the Baptist

transparent crystal, facial sections of a human head, silver plate

Amiens Cathedral, France, and the Basilica di San Silvestro in Capite, Rome

he was not the one

Salome wanted

he wore

his head

a goat’s skin

she was the one

the one

who cried


in her wilderness

he lived in

a palace

a wild desert

of moon

he was the coming of

there is always

the light


light shone

she was the one

in his face

who took his head

he called the dove

she looked


upon his head

he was not the one

shoulder bare

who walked


into a Jerusalem

the silver

paved with palms

spun with

there is always



from Museum of Objects Burned by the Souls in PurgatoryFind more by Jeffrey Thomson at the library

Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey Thomson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Jeffrey Thomson Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.