The First Stigmata

"Tears" by Hilly Wakeford, original pencil drawing, 2003

click to enlarge

“Lean on me,” she said.
He frail and struggling
from days on end with no sleep,
now thirsty, bleeding.
She, a robust woman,
strong footed and determined.
They pushed her back.
She fought them off.
“Lean on me,” she said.

Then the hardest part.
They laid him flat,
and nailed him through,
bone chipped on wood,
the splinter of porcelain.
This man whom she had held
on many nights,
rocked to sleep
in his silent separateness,
now crunching.
Still not a sound from his lips,
so intent on something else.

The crowd had thinned by now,
bored with the routine.
And it was dinnertime.
A strange chill stirred the air.
And then they swung it up—
the cross—
in one fell swoop,
with pulleys and a rope.
Him hanging hard forward
as if his hands
would rip through
from his own weight.
Then finally straight.
His mother screaming “No.”
And the other Mary doubled silently.

Then she felt it,
as any woman would feel it.
Flowing down between her legs,
unexpected, early,
bursting inside her,
Another season unfulfilled.
Then behind her ears,
warm and moist,
she touched it with her hand,
then pulled away.
Blood. Blood everywhere,
from vein and pore.
Hands trembling, frantically,
she wiped them on her robes,
until she heard his voice.
“Take this my cup and drink.”

And desperate
to taste his last drop,
she stretched up on tip-toe
to caress his blue-black feet,
and kiss his blood.
Entwined in death and life
as man and wife,
in life and blood.

Copyright © 2000 Susan Dane • All rights reserved.
Selection from GOOD-BYE TO WHITE KNIGHTS and other moving vehicles—III. One Hand.
Artwork: “Tears” by Hilly Wakeford, Rainbow World of Watercolor, original pencil drawing, 2003.