The seven last words: Woman, here is your son … (‘Crucifixion’ by Franz Stuck)

 

This mother does not stand at his right,

waiting and composed,

as the sword-point,

with surgical precision,

pierces her soul.

 

This friend does not stand at his left,

hands raised or clasped,

in frozen supplication.

 

They stand together.

The friend supports the mother,

clutches at her blue-robed shoulder

in visceral despair

as vision darkens

and all that they can hear

is the silence of the angels.

 

They are doing, and they will do what he asks of them.

 

And light transfigures his torn body,

streaming from beyond this

bloodied coin of a sun,

this tilting sky.

© Marion Adams 2016

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The seven last words: Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise

Thief? A euphemism,

brings to mind a sly child picking pockets at a market,

not this burly, naked thug strapped to a cross.

Robber? That’s more like it,

taking what he wants by force,

thinking that the world owes him a living.

Bandit? So the story goes. His name is Dismas:

lived in caves above the desert road,

terrorising travellers;

feasted on the milk and meat of stolen goats

or, most days, scraped by,

roasting forbidden rat and lizard flesh.

Always a man to whom the rules did not apply.

It has been said, a killer, too.

Murdered his own brother.

 

His former boss, Gestas

(if you believe the legend)

slumps against another cross;

teeth bared, drooling like a cornered cur,

set to fight to the death, which will be,

for him, a long time coming.

And between them,

not Barabbas, their old ally, but

this other Jesus:

the one

who claims to be a king – no, more than that –

Messiah himself.

 

‘Are you Messiah?

save yourself, and us!’

The rage in Gestas’ words

spreads like fire;

Dismas feels its heat

surge through him,

overriding pain,

and concentrate into a shout:

‘Go on, Messiah! Save yourself, and us!’

 

The man sags; a sigh escapes.

All he’s saving is his breath.

Gestas does not relent;

obscenities increasing in intensity,

spat out again, again, again.

 

The sky cracks open; streaks of light

marbling discoloured cloud.

Curses cool to ashes in his throat;

not for the first time, fear of the Wrath

racks Dismas, centres on the certainty

that God is just indeed,

gives him courage to confront

the snarling robber king with his,

with their, wrongdoing,

and its right, its proper consequence.

 

Meanwhile,

this man, this innocent,

this other-worldly king,

inclines his head, holds Dismas’ gaze.

‘When you come into your kingdom,’

Dismas says, ‘remember me’.

(Regret’s too small and too polite a word;

penitence, too meek.)

‘Jesus, remember me’. That’s all he asks.

It is enough.

© Marion Adams 2016

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

 

Hit and Run

Three lives collide

at the crossroads. Two young men,

both in a hurry. And I’m the witness,

dragged from my usual unravelling reverie.

 

It’s not what you might think.

The suddenness of his appearing

doesn’t shock. Of course, we see him,

the runner not in running gear,

pale hair stuck to his cheeks,

his breath syncopating with the slap

of every downhill step. I do not notice

if his eyes are particularly wild.

 

The other young man’s getting out the car

just as he passes, but the runner doesn’t miss a beat:

‘Jesus loves you, mate’. And on he runs.

The other young man mutters ‘nutter’.

Locks the car and hurries off.

Well, what would you do?

 

I walk on. Over the darkening tarmac

there are myriad golden comet trails

scattered by Scots pines,

and the scent of crushed yew berries is for once

slightly less

disturbing.

 

© Marion Adams 2016

Eclipse

This overshadowing,

even though expected,

still thrills. We step outside.

Our slow, sleep-slurred words

falter as the concrete steals the bed-warmth

from near-naked feet.

It takes some seeing, oh but when we do,

the frisson: this otherness, this unfamiliar

rubbed-out red that’s neither blood nor bloom,

brazenness subdued,

blush hued,

amber to ember.

To our left, a light flicked off.

We sense the shape at the window stare

at us staring. The restless earth rolls on,

and all becomes the shadow.

© Marion Adams 2015

Friday, 13th June 2014

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Bees brave summer rain

for this hedgerow happening:

a wild rose opens.

Photo & text © Marion Adams 2014

 

 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

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Moving reflection

on the dark pond’s tense surface:

light glimpsed within light.

Photo & text © Marion Adams 2014