Why was I reluctant?
I can only say it seemed so unnecessary.
I had been there for the whole ordeal.
We had already fulfilled the demands of hate,
Filled full, over flowed, spilled
The full measure of hate; killed Him.
Beat, flailed, threshed like grain of wheat,
Fresh flayed like meat, thorn-torn crownéd brow.
How brave He stood! How so silent?
Burdened, urged and cursed,
Tripped and whipped like a donkey,
Pushed, bullied and dragged;
Robe gripped and stripped, wounds ripped anew open;
Hung now-fresh bleeding flesh from stake
and now to be impaled?
Stuck like a pig with my lance?
Not a chance He is alive.
No breath detected,
No life suspected,
Elected to make sure, but
Need I? He is dead. Let Him be.
Behold the corpse!
Poor parched, dried out, bled out
Pale blue livid skin under red and black
Of wound and scab and muck.
I know the look of death!
Why have I not struck?
I had never paused before, human flesh is cheap
Insubordination steep. Why weep now?
Strange reluctance, ineluctable task
Final degradation, penetrating stab of hate.
“Give it to cold, old half-blind Longinus. Let him take care of it.”
So it must be, let pity die.
Hate welled up, swelled up, fell,
Black as coal, a hole of cold nothing in my soul,
Killed my pity.
Felt thunk of iron on blood soaked trunk
Of tree behind,
Even blind I,
Know to twist with wrist and rip
It is finished.
And in the act, the very act of pulling free:
Rushing counter-thrust of grace!
Riposte’ of Mercy burst unburdened out,
Frothed forth! Rushed eagerly, joyfully gushed,
Flushed my bat-blind eyes, and thrust me to my knees.
Mercy filled my eyes (that looked on slaughter,
And red-rimmed laughed) with blood and water,
Filled them with tears, and washed those tears away.
Washed away the dry, grimy film
Through which I viewed the world,
All my life.
Of sinners worst, most accursed, who durst
Kill and mutilate mercy itself, I was the first!
First immersed in Mercy
Bursting forth to quench my thirst.
Not according to desert, but to my need
In heaping measure what I, unknowing, took,
He blithely gave for me who made Him bleed.