It took six of us to get the cross down
Heavy and unwieldy with its burden.
Daniel swung the big mallet to knock out the bracing wedges,
The post hole made big from constant use.
I remembered a similar mallet in Joseph’s workshop,
He used it to knock in door posts.
How Jesus had laughed with each blow
As his arms vibrated and his hands fizzed as he braced the post.
He won’t be feeling these blows.
We had to let the cross fall at the last,
The body bouncing bonelessly and settling.
And then the struggle to get the nails out,
The left came out easily
It had used a previous hole made for some other poor wretch.
But the right was driven well in,
We had to make a bearing block for the pry bar,
To have crushed his poor hand would have been unbearable.
I cut the rope that bound his ankles
Used when they drove the nails into his feet.
Once free from the killing frame
We laid him on a rough hurdle,
Using the rope to bind his arms and legs to stop them falling awry.
With John I lifted the front
Timothy and David carried the rear
And the womenfolk held up the lanterns,
We stumbled down the hill to Esther’s house.
We tumbled the body of our Lord onto a table,
We could do no other, our arms screaming from carrying,
Our legs trembling from the descent.
Dancing, threatening shadows faded away
As the women lit lamps and placed them round the room
Replacing menace with warm light and love.
We unbound the body for the women to tend
And drew back to allow them space,
As we did so his arm fell away and swung loosely,
More lifeless than his body.
I leaped forward and grasped his hand, his cold cold hand
All that life affirming warmth completely drained away.
I stood foolishly chafing his hand
Trying to put my heat into him.
He had not been a big man, about average
But his body seemed longer than his height.
I marvelled at the whiteness, at the fineness of his bones.
His beautiful hand marred by the hideous puncture wound in outraged flesh,
As though a mouth had opened to shout the obscenities of this death.
With care they rolled him, first left then right, bathing and tenderly drying,
The angry wheals of his scourging blatant against the skin.
His mother carefully combed out his hair,
The livid snags of the thorns bright around his head
She bathed his face with her tears.
Mary his friend, was gently soothing and smoothing the indignities,
The terrible wound in his side gaped
Jagged and torn as the pilum was withdrawn,
And I had a brief glimpse of a grape purple inner sheath.
I watched as she lovingly wiped down his body,
Moving aside his flaccid member with a sad smile on her face.
The hair at the base of his belly gleamed gold in the lamplight.
I wondered if he had fully realised his humanity and fervently hoped that he had.
I had to relinquish my hold as scented oils were poured over his body
Before wrapping him in linen, taken from my sight,
Until all that was my Lord became a cloth bundle
But oh what was contained therein!
The sun was rising in a million scintillas of light
As we hurried our precious burden to the tomb prepared for him.
We laid him on the corpse ledge, and fussed with the tucks and folds
Nobody wanted to leave, we stood, disconsolate,
As though our combined presence could somehow revive him.
A clink from the masons chisel woke us from our reverie,
And in turn we stooped and kissed his forehead.
The air thick with repressed grief and choked sobs.
The mason slapped mortar around the entrance,
And all of us helped set the stone, sealing away all that was best.
The dull thud as the stone settled echoed my broken heart.
Sounding down through the years.