Stations of The Cross 2010

Jesus Is Crucified


Most pain I have taken quietly
but a coarse nail hacked through the hand
slices a nerve,
breaks my reserve
when I thought that pain had reached its constant pitch.
Not from a selfish perspective,
I wonder about such a casual infliction
as if cruelty were necessary to preserve surface tranquility,
as if my brothers and sisters were wild beasts,
as if we had learned no kindness as God's children.
What could these men have done to deserve death?
One is so driven beyond endurance
that he can only resent
but, like mine, his offence is surely hardly worthy of comment;
the other admits to something
but, again, death probably makes it seem disproportionately awful.
The infractions and codifications seem so trivial,
which is why I came,
to break My Father's people from their legalist addiction,
to teach them to remember love and pain.
There is, then, a terrible irony
that the law-destroyer should be destroyed by the law,
that the charge of blasphemy should be made against me.
I wonder how long;
I wish it were quiet;
I forgive the man who asks and the one who will not
and at last the pain begins to act as its own anaesthetic.
I see women standing like distant figures at the edge of the lake,
watching the boats come in.
The horizon wavers in mist
and the water and the women are momentarily sharp,
and then an illusion.
How long?
The soldiers wonder how long.
All we want now is for the waiting to be over
before something else goes wrong.


above the crowd I see the Temple smeared with golden stains
in the sun;
the cognoscenti and the curious squint at the inscription
and then the light drains;
the air, once filled with paschal bleating,
grows thin and still,
as the fatal night in Egypt is remembered in day-time darkness,
and the elders, so careful, have not daubed lamb's blood on the lintels
of the Temple which must fall.
The Angel of The Lord has come to dwell
on this shabby hill
where I have been lifted high,
to triumph and to die.
This unaccustomed darkness makes everyone uneasy,
as they have been since the beginning.
Whereas they have apparently orchestrated events leading to my humiliation,
they have bumped and edged their way,
grasping at what I have left them;
and now they just want it to be over
for, from beginning to end, it has been an untidy affair,
offending their love of the clean and the elegant.
Once the nails were driven in and the cross made secure,
everybody wanted to be gone
but then came the darkness
and they are rooted in agonised indecision.
They do not remember the instructions to Moses
and the passage of the Angel of Death in the darkness;
they do not remember the sun-dial turned backwards;
they do not remember exile.
Except for the power of priesthood
and the comfort of ritual, they have forgotten everything.
High above,
I am still their remembering.