Madeleine L’Engle

Salome: at the foot of the cross    Mark 15:40

It is the crossbeam with its earthbound weight,
that hurts, that makes his uphill road unending,
At the summit the upright waits, uncompromising, unbending.
He will have unthinkable pain, perhaps no angels tending,
so solitary is the road, so strait the gate.

Does this road go uphill only?
Is death all that waits at the end?

Under the cross I sit and, time-bound, wait
for time to fit the crossbeam to the upright, knowing
the end. He staggers, he is here, his weakness growing.
Flesh and wood shudder under the icy blowing.
Oh, Lord, is this how all our hopes must end?

Pushing through dark, in fiercest concentration,
it is now, as he stands beneath the crossbeam’s weight
that he strengthens, stretches, now he carries nothing,
it would seem, except himself. It is too late
for me to bear it for him, carry his beam,
and not the beam in my own eye, blinding, blowing.
Oh, God, the hammer, the nails. Lord.

He is stretched out, his strong arms
nailed to the crossbeam,
his dust-darkened feet to the upright.

Is there only time, this sky-darkened time?
As night dies to morning,
Will his dawn ever break again?


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