Easter Sestet

Easter Sestet

Carrying the Cross
They’re coming now
I can see them
A great snake of people
straggling up the hill
So many
but so little sound
Just the high wailing of the women
and the steady, gritty crunch
of feet on the road

I can see him
They’ve taken the cross from him
and are making another man drag it
but he’s still walking
as if he’s carrying its weight
He’s bent; bruised; bleeding.
Even from here he looks broken by their beatings

And there’s something on his head.
A crown?
I see now
It’s made of thorns.

Crucifying the King
They’ve tied him to it
his arms stretched open
Some surge closer
but I can’t
I can’t look while they do it

But I can hear it
The hammer blows on the nails
The jeering of the crowd
The cries of pain

They’re raising the cross
The ropes are creaking
and the soldiers grunt with effort
He cries out again
and I can’t help but look
There’s a sign nailed above his head
‘This is the king of the Jews.’

Casting Lots
Just over there
by his cross
there’s a knot of soldiers
jostling and jeering
fighting over his clothes
They’re casting lots
while the crowd watches
and waits

The division’s made
and they turn back to him
Come on then
king of the Jews
save yourself!

A group of official looking men join in
You’ve saved others
Chosen One
Can’t you even save yourself?

Save yourself.

I don’t know
who the other two are
Just some criminals I suppose
One of them’s chock full of bile
and even as he hangs there
heaving in each painful breath
he’s shouting at him
Save yourself and us

The other one though
turns his head
and says
just loud enough to hear
Remember me
when you come into your kingdom

And even with all that pain
and even after all the mocking
and spitting
and shouting
I can see the kindness in his eyes
when he promises
today you’ll be with me
in paradise.

He’s looking for someone
I can see him
scanning the faces in the crowd
He’s found her
His mother

Her head’s bent to her hands
She’s cloaked in grief
and the pain of seeing her this way
etches onto his bruised face
He raises his eyes
to a man standing nearby
then settles his gaze
back on his mother

he calls softly
Here is your son
And to his friend
Here is your mother
Even now
even at this time
he’s loving his family
and tending his flock.

Crying out
The sky’s been dark
since noon
Three hours of waiting
in the gathered gloom
listening to
his shallowing breaths

I know now
he’s not going to
save himself
He’s not going to
come down
from the cross
and stir up
the revolution
He is going to die

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

Three years
of following
Three hours
of waiting in the dark
And it’s nearly time
We can all feel it
like a cold stone dropping
It’s nearly time

He’s thirsty
He’s just said he’s thirsty
can’t they hear him?
Vinegar on a sponge
It’s nearly time

He is dead.