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
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.
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.