by Jeffrey Essmann
Outstretched and nailed upon the planks of pine the crucified is dying as a king; his crown of gold and forthright gaze outshine the morbid shades his fading life enring. I cannot meet his eyes and so look down and fear more what I’ve found than what I’ve lost: that there’s a secret burden to the crown reminding us that victory has a cost. I stand beneath, no longer horrified by mere remembrance of his ghastly pain, yet quail to know I’m only glorified by blood unseen that leaves a deeper stain. The cross’s crime is not Christ’s final breath but my own lack of will to share his death.
Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.