The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross

How limp and unresponsive his body is!

His friends are so gentle as they prise the nails from the wood,
drawing them carefully from the running wounds.
But there is no need.
All feeling is gone.
They could be as brutal as his executioners;
it would make no difference.
This body is no more
than a set of limbs ungainly jointed, collapsed upon itself,
as inanimate as a broken puppet.
They lay him on his mother’s lap
in piteous parody of her lost nursling.

She lifts the thorns from his brow
and seeks to smooth away the lines of agony
still etched across his face.
She bends to kiss his head;
her lips might rest on stone.
If possible, she would weep him clean
but the hardening blood is too fixed for tears to lift.

Others might set up a screaming lamentation,
strangling the air with the ululation of professional mourners,
a ritual wailing and a rending of garments.
She offers instead a simple dignity.
but accepting,
she sighs,
aching for her child.
She shudders.
How rootless and directionless life is
when love is cut adrift!

His friends come forward now,
detaching themselves from the mute crowd,
to join his mother and the young man on whom she leans.
No-one in authority now cares who his followers are.
The body can be accorded all the rites they like.
The man is dead.
Grieving is the most impotent of emotions.

Stations of the Cross