new Mennonite Life logo    December 2002     vol. 57 no. 4     Back to Table of Contents

Three poems by Dallas Wiebe

On Bearing the Sign of Christ Into the New Millennium

The surgeon's knife cut just in time
      to get that cross on my chest
      for the third millennium A.D.
Like a message from the gods,
      he marked me for a mission
      to carry the sign, although hidden,
      into a new age lest the sign
      be lost or forgotten.
My wiry little scar pokes down
      toward my navel.
The crossbeam is short
      and hardly strong enough to hold a body.
No body hangs from the cross
      except mine.
On the back of it
      and out of proportion.
I'm no longer myself,
But the image of an idea.
I'm being used against my will
      to bear the sign.
There's no erasing it.
There's no denying its presence.
There's no escaping what it means.

A Note to Paul Friesen

Making crosses is a slippery business,
      as you surely know.
You'd just as well make them out of water
      as out of wood.
The making of crosses may be more difficult
      than bearing them.
Nobody ever said it would be easy.
The dream of meaning is as fluid
      as the seed from which the tree grows.
The chimera of belief is as foggy
      as the clouds from which the rain comes
      to water the tree.
The hallucination of significance is as empty
      as the air in which the tree flourishes.
Anyone can cross two sticks and say,
      "Look. That's belief."
Anyone can draw a picture and say,
      "Behold. Here's the way it was."
Anyone can write a song and say,
      "That's what it all amounts to."
A cross might say,
      "Come unto me and I will give you rest."
Any cross could say,
      "Behold the lamb of God."
All crosses must say,
      "Here is death. For what it's worth."
When you first touch the wood
      that you will turn into a cross,
      notice the grain that leads to the foot
Where you and I and all mankind stand,
Where the water and the blood drip over us,
Where redemption flourishes
      if we work long enough
      at the wood in our souls
      from which our special crosses are made.


At the foot of my cross is me.
At the foot of my cross
      is my navel and my stomach
      and two punctures
      where the tubes entered
      to drain my wounds,
      where for five days water and blood
      came flowing round and out.
At the foot of my cross
      there is no beloved disciple or a weeping mother
      or someone throwing dice for my seamless coat.
My stigmata are hidden
      so no one can see where I was pierced.
They will be manifest only
      when I get my loincloth and my crown of thorns.
Even so, no one will cradle my body and carry it
      to a rock enclosure.
Nor will I rise on a third day.
I will not noodle along to Emmaus.
I will not appear in Galilee.
No one will take my death
      to be the good news of salvation.
At the foot of my cross is me,
      and behind it
      and above it
      and all around
      that fragile stick.