Done in from the cutting edges of another week,
The automatic opening of the eyes as if it were
Some daily un-prayed-for layman’s resurrection.
Ash Wednesday and mine to offer the day’s reading,
Bringing forty days of penance, the surprising levitation.

Who among us might believe he was small,
Never larger than a child, thin-wristed wasp-wasted.
What might such girlishness have to do with our lives.
The Jew in him was dark, heavy-beard, bones angular,
Dark-browed, hair tangled, muscles like tubes, and sexed.

In the reading the moment of death was fitful,
Was like nearing that moment of painful exhaustion;
The visitors who had come to watch strolled hand-in-hand
Down the the lane, lanterns swinging, half-faithful, secure,
Men and women moving well among nuance and imperatives.

In the palace, Pilate’s wife tried on new slippers;
Her daughter practiced the format of a new kiss.
In the market place, a rooster crowed by a dung neap.
A soldier drowsed and dreamed harsh grace,
His side pained by his own token spear.
In past centuries living has been no greater;
Purpose fades in the air, in the water.
The body’s night sweat dries, slavish master of the dark.
Nightly the heart exalts in its own wilderness,
Its desire a place of shame in all our memory.