Joseph’s Gift

(John 19: 39-42)

I cannot let Him hang there,

naked and defamed –

A body bridging Heaven to the Law.

I will give Him, of Himself, a gift

His riven heart to me has borne.

Darkly down a skull-set Hill

I go to kneel and die.

From my stand, a distant pediment of stone,

I saw His kind hands softly touch them.

All of them. Even in their filth.

His fingers naming each unknown,

denuding layers of leper-skinned shame.

The weighted center of my world

swung wide away to where he bent and bore.

The sea, a mountainside, unruly wind;

I heard them pray His name –

Tectonic Holy utterings of praise.

Now this waning world-end day is split and still,

curdled in the blood-stirred dust of Death.

The lone warmth here, my clammy flesh.

Yet I will rise to lower Him –

take Him in my wooden arms,

pull spikes through sinews,

nail them to myself,

untangle a cruel crown.

This One whose ceaseless reaching

rescued even the dead and damned

now hangs on me without a twitch of pulse.

David’s desiccated seed.

His blood – the milk of Canaan – falls upon my robes;

Hope of Heaven seeps into the ground.

With my aloe and myrrh-soaked linens,

kneeling near the cliffs of Hell

I will love Him. I will love —

His pierced side, with water washing from my eyes.

Spike wounds, with my soothing spice.

His face, beneath a curtain of thorns,

parceled by bloody rivulets,

the primal gaze behind all truth,

all silence, sorrow, song;

first and last great missive

of the Glory that was once and is to come,

(and now can be) –

His face, with every drop of love

I’ve gathered from the cistern of His gaze.

Within me, walled desert citadels

fall crumbling in the sinkholes of His wounds,

embalming in His body the substance of myself.

My death, His viewing.

Today, forever, I must give this gift.

I will make His body clean.

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