On the occasion of the release of the Senate torture report
In Piero della Francesca’s
“Flagellation of Christ,”
The room is needlessly spacious
For the blunt work at hand.
Three figures in the foreground
Take no notice of the violence.
Except for the purpose
They are superfluous.
Some critics argue these three
Are Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea
And the beloved disciple John,
Who will later bribe the authorities,
Claim the body of their friend,
And bury him in a borrowed grave
Once the humiliations,
Beatings, and execution end.
At this distance, Jesus
Appears to console his tormenter,
Whose right hand is raised
As if in protest
(One can barely see the whip.)
How hard it is to do my job,
He complains, and not feel put upon.