Mysterium Crucis

Nico Pablo

Before you, I knew wood as my arms,

sprouting from my island body.


Brown seeds spun coconut husk 

then split to brown man, brown woman.


I am not a god of scripture or doctrine, 

but I reside in them; they in me. 


We saw you in the distance of white clouds.

Two pieces - one upright, 


as a sword piercing the sands,

another outstretched, a preacher’s open arms -


borne on ship and fluttering winds.

You were the tip of that behemoth wood


ripping the veiled sky. 

Light spilled on the skin 


of marbled demons while they sunk 

our painted bodies with their anchors.


We refused you at first. 

Blood the price for keeping faith. 


Your weariness bore us down.

Blood a pact for changing it. 


I thought we had survived

each time my children sprung anew from


my scorched and salted lands, 

molested by zeal.


Upon my feet, 

my daughter as virgin,


her baro’t saya

slumped, sloughing off


defiance,

remembrance.


On my uncrossed brow,

my young brown boy


tacked to a mockery 

of you, his soutane 


tattered before it

drapes body waiting.


Take these reposes,

horizontals parallel 


to the bark of your bed; 

yours accrued gold 


headboard to foot.

Theirs crusted in grime and worm.


How could 

your face be long? 


Time cocoons and plods on like a mollusk,

adds a spiral for every year


my children invoke your praise – 

A mouth decreeing your altar in halls and laws.


A pair of lungs gasping for dry land 

in floods and fires for the unworthy.


A megaphone blasting asphalt 

calling a dictator to humility and holocaust. 


And after all these centuries, 

I wonder how you stay 


there barely clothed, 

drooping yet never dropping,


as if the weight we took from you 

did nothing for your wounds. 


Whenever I pray for you to ease 

this burden we share, 


you point to your sternum, it whispers:

Our heart is suffering.


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