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Poetry

Someone always climbs a tree
When a saint arrives—half-
Way marker of earth and sky:

You can’t get there from here.
But this is how we represent
Desire for liberation, human form

As flag announcing spirit through
Flesh. That boy reaches for a bird or palm,
The top part of the tree where branches break

Into leaves, or maybe waves at two boys
In the gate’s balcony. In this miniature
The crowd at the stone wall gate

Of the holy city balances doubt and faith
Between their eyebrows. The gate is the mouth
Accepting the body of Christ, his followers

Peter and the Apostle John with fine golden circles,
Pleased at his reception. One city dweller
Shrugs off his mantle to lay before the donkey,

First, then Christ, whose open hand says,
I obey as I command, assuage as I suffer.
I bless this world that brings me death.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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