Eastern OrthodoxPoetry

Crucifixion Night 2016

I had to get up out of the muck and mud
slinging – you can’t sling mud without getting
your own hands dirty – so I climbed up
the only thing high enough to be
looking down on the world, a cross.
I had some help up; some
friends who knew I needed
crucifying nailed me.
From up here I can see a lot
of other crosses, people
put there against their wills,
the people those on the ground
are fighting for but ignoring
as they cry weakly
“My God! My God! why
am I forsaken?”

From up here I could see
people with signs decrying
the treatment of the crucified,
condemning the legionnaires,
blaming the carpenters and shepherds,
while the crucified bled to death.
Who put them there, I wondered?
The shepherds and carpenters?
The legionnaires? Those wielding
signs with sticks and stones on them?
Did knowing how they got there
stop them from dying?
I could sometimes hear over the
bottled-water carrying crowd
one cry from the cross
“I thirst!”

I could see sponges lifted on
sticks – one was raised to my
lips, and I could smell perfume
and piss, as though the crowd
blended together, for and against,
to make us water themselves –
and the only thirst that would be
assuaged by this crowd was their
own desire for self-approbation.
It was an organized program,
with people gifting the crucified
money and food and cardboard
rain coverings, but no escape.
I could see the crowd was clueless,
and couldn’t help but respond,
“Forgive them, they don’t know
what they’re doing.”

A ladder was erected against
a nearby cross, and a couple rose
from the crowd to the crossbeam.
They removed the one from the
cross and one of them replaced him,
the other taking the crucified on
his shoulder and carrying him away.
Where was he being taken?
The man fought his way through
the crowd, being vilified as a
lover and a hater of the crucified
by those professing to love or hate them.
As they passed beneath my cross,
I hear the man whisper,
“Today you will be with me
in Paradise.”

The silent energies came for me,
a couple with grey hair, the man
with carpenter hands and the woman
with an obviously pierced heart.
The man said, “Son, this is now your
mother.” They loosed me and I said,
“Then, father, into your hands I give
my spirit,” and I hugged the belly
of the woman who had placed
herself on the cross, arms
outstretched to the world.
I was taken to a cave and anointed,
and restored to health.
As the father and I released
another crucified one, I took
his place on the cross and cried,
“It is finished!”

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

Previous post

Encountering Aslan in the Wild

Next post

Saint Phanourios: a Friend in Suffering and One Who Finds What is Lost