via crucis


My skin already broken
and blood flows, these
small wounds smart as the
candles gutter.  Voices
continue, falling like stones
into a pool, to settle unmoved
at its base
as if they would drag it down.
I cannot move - I am held
equally still, in God's hands,
my feet cold on the stone -
my heart beating strong -
	and the spell is broken:
	rough hands grasp me.


They load the weight on my shoulder, I
gasp and stagger, the wall and gate
loom before me - not one step 
can I take
so laden.  I am deaf now
to all but my breathing
and the solid crudely-hewn wood
scraping my skin
as I hold the beam.  It crushes
my shoulder and I
feel my cheek rasp and bleed
as I stagger again
but stand.


It moves somehow, my soles
pressed into cobbles and pebbles -
the weight of my life, my words
were never so heavy -
back-bowed.  Splinter to splinter
and bloodflow staining
skin.  I stagger in
the crowds and buckle - the
long moment of hush as a
knee crashes stone
and breaks.


Rough hands sieze me and I am
hefted upright, groaning.  Shouts
near and far, and crying.  I
cannot see well for the
blood in my eyes.  My open
hands grasp the block, I
strain, move on -
knee-pain, shoulder numb.  Drag
and stagger, drag and
stagger, the long end of the wood
clumping on stone.  Seeing little,
I smell a fragrance I
recognise and stop, reeling.

Try and open my eyes, see
through the film of red
to a pale blue hem and
blue robe - slowly my eyes
rise to see her whom
I most love - my longing
known.  Such sorrow.  We stare
at each other
a long moment, long-known
until the lash comes down
and the wood sways


I hear a horse, and hoarse
voices disputing, out of the blue
strong hands and a smell
of cinnamon
	lighten my load - I feel strong limbs
touch mine and look
round to a tall bent man
in white
	beside me bearing
my wood, I breathe
easier now and pressure
on shoulder, and cheek,
and knees, raw hands, 
eases.  I am grateful
for the little
is much.


The hill seems higher now
and the press of the crowd hot:
voices clamour and jostling
follows my slow progress.  Somewhere,
	he left me
but the wood remains.  Sweat
deepens now, my face coarse
and crimson - I long for cool
water, the rustle of leaves,
a pale soft breeze and the
fragrance of grass.  Something

soft touches my face and
with gentleness
smoothes my skin.  I open my
eyes and see the face of a woman.
	I feel clean.


	It does not last
and the vision fades.  I hear
voices, voices, and the
sun burns my head.  I am
dizzy now and the wood
bears down on me - I stop
and sway - I cannot hold it -
I crash on both knees
	blinding flash
	white pain
hits my eyes and I am
nearly down. reeling. reeling.
nearly stone.


The afternoon wears on me
like a chain, the incline
never-ending and the weight
so much a part of me now
I cannot feel it.  I float
towards them, the small group
of women: a mirage of orange,
blue and green, small children
clutch their legs.  They are
weeping and their faces
fear what they see.  I pity them.

Weep for yourselves, women, for
	what we all
	might never be.  I see
they cannot see
	and pass them slowly
my way.


But now it darkens before me -
	the stone, the street, the
	people fade, and I feel myself falling,
	voices disappear, I crash
	down on my face, the fall
	winding me, breath shocked
	out of my body and the wood falls
on my back pinning me
	to the road.  My cheek is crushed
to stone, I feel grit
impress my skin I can barely

The wood hauled-up, I feel it go
and sun strikes my face.  My
back sore now.
Rough hands grasp me
and I stand, swaying,
the light is pain and my
head spinning.  They lead me on
for I cannot see the way, the wood
	walks beside me
carried by four men.


The road opens out from between
	the walls, runs down to
green and trees
	and up again to a bare
hill shaped like a skull.  Its
empty eyes stare at me.  It
knows I come.

The air is warm among the trees
as I pass, buzzing of
flies is loud and somewhere
in the branches
birds sing, the bare
road winds to the top of the rock
where they strip my cloths:
	encumbrances in the
	necromancy of nails and

they rip the dried skin off my back
as my linen is


They lay me on my back
horizontal, glad to be still, the rope
tight at ankle
and wrists - it creaks
as they torque it.  I squint
from the sun, stare up at the
stretching blue - a cloudless 
sky.  I watch a bird wheel by
lazily, ignoring us.

Then the first is driven in, flinted
sparks and ringing, I contort
pain and cry out.
I am twisted undone I feel
bones give way begin
	unpiece they cannot
take such strain.

And I taste the air as I am swung
	upright - the awful leer
and thud
as the base thumps in.


	I cannot breathe
	I cannot breathe
I move pain move pain the blue is
blurred, bird gone, the
crowds silent now, the
women weeping quietly
in twos and threes.  My mother's face,
my friends.
	I buckle and rend, dizzy
my blood is leaking,
	leaking away,
	I weaken.

	Speak softly
and can only give, give away
what I most treasure.
	Light fades.
I am stabbed by knives
and a deep regret.  Where
is my God?  I feel
myself begin to sink through
	deep water
	deep blue water bearing me
and the glimmering light beams
	slowly disappear.


Clouds came in to darken the sky.
Silence stretched out over the hill
and our heads hung lifeless, blood still
glistening on the wood.

Eventually the soldiers let them
take us down		and I felt my body
with no pain, and they wrapped me
gently in clean linen and
free of the wood
they bore me fragile through the trees.
I saw nothing
but felt the touch of
			many hands.


I was laid on the ground but I
felt no stones in my back.  I smelt
thyme and juniper, I heard
birds singing and
	flitting through leaves.  There were
words and grunts, the scraping
of a heavy stone

and then a cool place with
	damp air, quiet voices
echoing softly - a small
cavern hewn in the hill -
I knew it well.  They

laid me on a stone table
and I felt my body straighten
my limbs begin to rest,
	hands quietly crossed
	I was blessed
	and left.

The stone was grinding and it
scraped as it rolled
	and the silence
	and the silence


		But I was not done
and they came for me in the
early morning, bringing a draught
of cold air and green
waking me from my dream
and I was lifted out of there
as if I had
		never been.
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