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DESCENT FROM THE CROSS
Moldy sack of flour, inflated
white wineskin, the savior
is removed from the spotted wood, his
not-quite-a-head slack, fallen
like a small, airless balloon. One man holds
this ugly doll by an arm
staring with disbelief,
pity and fear. Others give
and take, their lost faces
look up and down.
A fat man in a turban
stands and stares,
satisfied with his potbelly.
Against the dark heavens
someone kneels, slowly allowing
the sheet to drop down.
Everything is in darkness. The trees too.
Only the body shines.

No, not exactly. Again. From the beginning.
Soft white flesh, so it seems,
living, breathing, moving its arms,
even loving. Outside the frame,
one guesses they will put him to rest in the ground.
Put him to rest? Will he rest? Eternal rest.
No. Not exactly.

The figure is a figure, but
only apparently. The scene is well-known,
apparently. The figures,
the bloodied, silent wood, heaven
all color – colors are colors –
but from where and where to? Darkness. The painting
hangs in Munich. I saw it.
I saw it? Isn’t it
before, behind,
under and above, alone
like a bird flying
in a last breath, floating a moment
above a familiar
face that is no more, an imagined
soul –
 
 
 
 

Translator's Note: An ekphrastic poem referencing Rembrandt’s painting Descent from the Cross (1633)