The seven last words: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing

How can he say

these soldiers don’t know what they’re doing?

They are men who follow orders,

carry out commands,

obey instructions to the letter.

They have a job to do,

one they’ve done at least a dozen times before.


They do it well –

steady the shuddering hands against the knotted wood,

swing the homely hammer like a weapon.


They pause, breathe deeply, wipe impassive faces.

Torture’s heavy work,

even though the man they’re pinning down

does not protest, and pleads once only,

and then, not even for himself.


How can he, the stricken one

plead ignorance on behalf of those who strike him,

those who wield the scourge,

weave the spiked twigs,

spit, taunt and curse,

or stand apart, lips pursed or smiling?

How can he wish the bliss of God’s forgiveness on them all –

the brute, the psychopath, the pleaser of the crowd,

this whole foul-mouthed, coarse-natured,

pious, aloof, smug and indifferent

cross-section of humanity?


How dare he intercede for us, they think,

this pinned-down God, this mockery of a deity

we’ve rendered powerless.

© Marion Adams 2016



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