I am imagining the soldier who drove the nails, clambering around or across the body, straddling and stretching to reach the hands, trying to avoid seeing the face and eyes, ignoring the eternal life line dividing the palms from fingers down to wrists, glimpsing the lips moving silently, mouthing words not meant for ears to hear; And I’m wondering how many keepers of reliquaries claim to own those nails, or perhaps even the letter home written by the nailer or some other soldier ordered later to do his duty and pull them out.
Time’s Visitor feels time upon his head. Tuesday of Holy Week. Sunday’s parade. Monday’s prophetic Temple escapade. And three days hence “beloved son” is dead. (This was the designation Mark had heard From Peter’s lips: “Christ said ‘beloved son.’”) Now, since his earthly race is nearly done, No calembour must cloud Messiah’s word. So we require no fancy exegesis, Creation’s gifts are here; the Covenant; Moses; the prophets; foul sin’s great affront; Pater absconditus, Father of Jesus. He knew the issue of these words, so clear, He even knew the time of chanticleer.
If there is a movie that can make you feel optimistic about the possibilities of forming community in America, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party is it. In September 2004 Chappelle, an African-American stand-up comic, celebrated his $50 million contract with Comedy Central by throwing a free hip-hop party in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
He rose again. His face was black and bruised. The underground famine had gnawed its gloss. Where I have been, you could not live to tell. First, his women returned, and then his friends. They reached to press their fingers to his scar. Do not touch me, he scolded crossly, cold as Christ. Instead, they stroked the air, feeling by degree for what had changed. But new moods bloomed from his skin and from his bristle. He spit upon the ground and then he cursed. He did not walk towards the light, he walked away. And the lock-jaw mouth of the grave stayed agape, misgiving. As if it did not know: Dead does not mean dead forever.
After a while, one starts thinking in that language, dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that language, and the behavior becomes different. —J. J. Jameson
Wind cannot change the dark, late March, when the strip of soil along my fence goes soft, ready for seed. From morning sky, a promise of heaviness. Clouds curl like smoke, cigarettes you ask for the day they fly you, bound, to Dedham. So I plant orange flowers, and yellow, whose petals trap sunlight, beacons lining the walk from garage to house. In my dream, you tell me
you have one more thing to do before you can come back: prune trees before sap rises, you say, no pain, no ooze, the firs sleep
beyond memory. From my angle of repose, do I see a branch blown upright or a hawk at rest in his hunt, moon melting layers of gold on new grass? In an orange hard hat you swing the cherry picker. The bandit raccoon crosses a network of roofs yard to yard. In the alley, the grinder lops wood into sawdust. “As long as I go to heaven, that’s all what counts”—your answer to my fear of awakening
to my heart chained to a wall. Meanwhile, the storm comes slate-grey while monarchs weave among unbloomed sunflowers.
When Mary Magdalene said she’d seen the Lord it was strangely disappointing One of the worst women saved from the street to have been first I knew it must be true that’s just what he would do but then when I was the only one to fight fear & search for myself the others lagging behind it was like the soldier’s spear went right through me too when I returned to hear the others bragging (that was the worst) that I was the only one not to have been there not to have seen where his hands were pierced I went into denial I won’t believe I said Anything less than my fingers in his wounds won’t be enough My words sounded odd to my ears A week later I was among them when he appeared & called my bluff My Lord & my God Conviction rolled off my tongue
The novelist Ian McEwan wrote, “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.” This is the rationale for the Empathy Library, an online resource that recommends fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, plus films that can help people empathize with the lives of others. It includes top ten lists on different themes such as love, war, or religion. Readers are invited to add their own suggestions and comments (empathylibrary.com).