Crucifixion, Missal

(Italy, Perugia, before 1297)[1]

Crucifixion full

The stretched ligaments
Are presented by the suffering eye
The circles of the haloes scuffed by the devotions
Of the monks to the five wounds and the five prayers

The translucent fabric phases in and out of visibility
Thin and pale
Only with the eye an inch away can we make it out

Is this what salvation takes?
This squinting at suffering through a lens

Most of the blood needs a magnifying glass
Only the bright spurt where the lance pierced can be easily made out
The uneven wound that points to his mother

Looking closely a red mark can be found on her gathered-up hand
Is it the stigmata or a splash from overhead?
Heaven-given blood that reminds us of the grace of the Annunciation
And the smudged mandala of the Holy Spirit

The Earth opens up a mouth beyond the frame
Preparing to drink the metaphorical wine
The wine that is used to count plagues and to count blessings

One for the water made blood and one for the nails
One for the frogs and one for the thorny crown
One for the gnats and one for the spear
One for the flies and one for the message over his head
One for sick cattle and one for the crying mother
One for the boils and one for the impassioned saint
One for the thunder and hail and one for the lost thieves
One for the locusts and one for the cast lots

But instead of taking sons God gives one
There will be no pass over for Jesus
For he leans to the left on his cross

John prays for him to save himself
He offers his hand as a stairway and screams at the decorative stars
Mary has suffered and borne for him
And we remember her screams in that stable as she waited for birth
Arms stretched out and meeting nothing

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©

[1] Melbourne, Franciscan Friars—Province of the Holy Spirit, on deposit to Melbourne, State Library of Victoria, Rare Books Collection