Since Adam, excuses have slipped glibly from our hollow mouths.
We prefer to shift the burden, gifting blame to others,
careless of their innocence or complicity,
so long as we
are never held responsible
or singled out for punishment.
Jesus is not Adam.
He plays a different part.
When Pilate passes sentence, he lifts his head
and holds our gaze steadily,
begrudging us nothing.
Of all men most innocent, he does not flinch beneath vicious condemnation.
Of all men most pure, he does not shrink from vilification
but sees instead a chance to share the shackles of humanity.
He holds our gaze and we would now embrace oblivion most gladly
If only to escape the sight of every sin of ours
(each selfish act,
each petty word of spite,
each coward’s shrug,
every abusive thing that we had thought forgotten or concealed)
swarming to him like a foetid plague.
He is condemned for our faults and flaws.
Blistered, bright with sores
of our infecting,
he turns smiling,