A poem for Holy Week

 Photo by  Rubén Bagüés  on  Unsplash

Last year my church commissioned me to write a poem for our Good Friday service based on the Seventh Station of the Cross. I'm publishing it here because I'm glad to share it with you.

Feel free to use with attribution.

Jesus cares for his mother - John 19:25b - 27

Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

 

Near the Cross, Christ’s Mother Speaks

By Micha Boyett

 

Oh God, I sang those words like the angel who once blazed before me,

left me light-soaked, my virgin-clear voice lifting the poems

of the ancients into song. I was only a girl then, and still

you gave me this child. I received him, I believed.

 

His birth was worship. The praise I sang in naïve faith:

Magnify the Lord, rejoice in God. I claimed mercy

for generations, for this generation. I sang because you chose me,

because my child’s very living was hinged in wonder. 

 

God, despite your quiet retreat, despite the early years of fear,

when my exhaustion and earth-bound vision cast a veil between us.

Though he pulled from me toward you, toward danger, toward this world.

Still, I told him his story, his past and future as the Always-One.

 

I sang him into the song the prophets wrote:

How Yahweh shows strength with his mighty arm.

I whispered in the dark, his boy-body resting on mats,

You are the Mighty Arm, child.

 

And here, oh God, is where it ends: That boy I dressed,

the one whose meat I cut in bits, who—for your sake, Lord—

I told the Story. There he is—your Mighty Arm—

on that cross, writhing, calling his mother, Woman.

 

I’ll go with John to his home, my old shoulders

wrapped in wool, I’ll shiver by the fire,

grief my companion, let the women spoon me broth.

But I will not sing the song you gave me.

 

I will not sing of deliverance, of mercy, or strength,

of hungry filled, of goodness in the hands of weak ones.

No, I will die an old woman without a son,

in the home of a stranger who loved my child.

 

And what will become of our visions and dreams, of the prophets’

words I pressed into that boy’s hands? Your angel promised power,

vowed to shatter thrones in Yahweh’s name. Yet my son—

our son, Lord—was power cloaked in peace. He shattered us all.

 

What can I do but receive this? Let John

lift the bread and wine to my lips, bitter in the mouth

of this old woman who waits to kiss—one last time—

the face of her broken, miraculous son.

 

Or perhaps you will grant me hope enough

for a solemn hymn, the final prayer of a desperate mother:

 

Look upon your Mighty Arm, Lord. Save us all.

 

© Micha Boyett 2017. All rights reserved.