BODY OF CHRIST

christ, daring to contain yourself
within a body’s hoary, bounded skin,
you daily refused transcendence —
the easy flight out
from earth & dirt & scourge —
to practice presence,
the minute-by-minute fact
of nails through bone.
you could have worn flesh lightly,
loose as a billowed seine net,
slipping out & back
with the small silver grace
of a minnow. choosing your moments,
you’d have stayed just for wine,
and fruity ointment sopped
onto your feet, mary’s hair
languid & fragrant as lilies
upon your thigh. why trouble yourself
with leprosy & vinegar,
blisters & bloody flux,
all the unwholesome stain & mess
which is the human design?
you looked best in soft raiment
& smart beard, not stinking of blood
and craven sweat, or sprawled in the desert,
starveling & ugly as an anorexic.
kin to angels, they could have made
your table of friends, their virgin forms
aromatic with cloves & ozone,
their mannerly wings concealing
a multitude of fine sins.
even nearly too late,
after meeting judas’s greedy lips,
you could have deserted
the burdensome package of vulnerable tissue
and stressed bone, left the puppet body
to spasm & break insensate
on the cross. all good friday,
you would have gleefully flown safe,
unhindered & apathetic,
free & as far from human
as a bird of the air
or god.