This wood, they say, was good for nothing but a felon’s cross.
Its grain so gnarled, so knotted and contorted,
once felled, there was no other use to which it could be put.
It had grown, since time began,
in Adam’s garden.
Its trunk was twisted, deformed by some monstrous thing
coiling itself about the bole,
whether to crush it or support it, God knows.
Why does he choose this dark cross to shoulder
when there are others, propped against the prison wall,
rough-hewn but straight, he could have taken?
He could have left this cursed contraption
to a mere malefactor. Yet he does not.
Other men might flinch
when faced by that which will effect their death:
the barrage of bullets when called to charge,
the whining missiles exploding on defenceless homes,
the relentless march of incurable disease.
He does not quail before this cross
but stretches his arms along its length
as if to measure all his strength
and stoops beneath the beam
to take its weight.
His back still runs with wounds the soldiers’ flails
have cut into his flesh.
The kiss of silk would be agony enough.
Yet nothing but a sigh escapes his lips.
He shifts the weight
and makes his way along the road to Golgotha.
In his wake, the dragging cross cuts a furrow in the dirt
where runs the bloody sweat that comes from drudgery and toil,
the curse of every man since Adam’s fall.
Jesus lifts his head,
straining to bear the hardship and the pain,
whilst all we do is stare.
Our hands hang helplessly at our sides.