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Friday, April 22, 2022

Poem: “Salvator Mundi: Via Crucis” by Denise Levertov

 Maybe he looked indeed 

much as Rembrandt envisioned Him 

in those small heads that seem in fact 

portraits of more than a model. 

A dark, still young, very intelligent face,

A soul-mirror gaze of deep understanding, unjudging.

That face, in extremis, would have clenched its teeth

In a grimace not shown in even the great crucifixions.

The burden of humanness (I begin to see) exacted from Him

That He taste also the humiliation of dread, 

cold sweat of waiting to let the whole thing go, 

like any mortal hero out of his depth, 

from what like anyone who has taken herself back.

The painters, even the greatest, don’t show how, 

in the midnight Garden, 

or staggering uphill under the weight of the Cross, 

He went through with even the human longing 

to simply cease, to not be.

Not torture of body,        

not the hideous betrayals human commit 

not the faithless weakness of friends, and surely 

not the anticipation of death (not then, in agony’s grip) 

was Incarnation’s heaviest weight, 

but this sickened desire to renege, 

to step back from what He, Who was God, 

had promised Himself, and had entered 

time and flesh to enact.

Sublime acceptance, to be absolute, had to have welled 

up from those depths where purpose

Drifted for mortal moments.

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