Audio: Read by the author.
but the empty grave was no problem.
Belief in the honed bronze spear-tip
releasing the gush
of water followed by the thick blood
that hurried his expiration
as he hung wasted on the cross
was also easy.
I could almost see the bored centurions
craving a drink
as the shadows crept in.
And the sour tang of vinegar
they thrust at him,
the sponged wine on a stick?
Easy. Just put lemon on sun-cracked lips
and close your eyes. Imagine nails
thick as crude spikes. Feel it burn.
But the holes are what I remember
best. How you could see
a tiny glimmer of sunlight
in the center of his palm
when he raised a hand
to wave goodbye.
Michael Bazzett’s poems have appeared in The Sun, Tin House, Ploughshares, and American Poetry Review. He is the author of three collections of poetry, and his recent verse translation of the Mayan creation epic, The Popol Vuh (Milkweed), was named one of 2018’s ten best books of poetry by the New York Times.