Standing in that vicious place,

stench so acrid on her tearing face,

His mother wept below the cross

lamenting, “How is it possible

for me not to mourn, my son,

my whole being overwhelmed …

seeing you naked there and hung,

like a criminal impaled on a tree?”

 

“You hang so high above my head,

on that rugged, splintered wood,

gasping breath, suffering, nearly dead.

You are no longer my tender infant

nuzzling to my breast. In splendid birth,

little helpless one, you were only mine

as you slept on my chest. Tiny mouth

crying, soothed with warm milk, a hug,

and my soul’s lullabies. … Now you moan
piercing my heart, no way to ease your groan.”

 

“Woe, my heart!  My heart is torn with grief.

Unjustly pierced! I’m haunted by gulls

circling over the spot of Adam’s skull.

You, the man I hoped would be a king

hangs condemned, so are you my son

I’m seeing? “O, my beloved Son, where

has your surpassing beauty gone?” Romanos, On Mary at the Cross

“If you suffer and die, can you come to me again?

Must you go down to Hades, that place of death,

for Adam and Eve, going where only dead have been?

Oh, how will I conquer my pain? Will I not mourn,

weeping in my house with you in the tomb?

Breath gone, body limp and spirit torn,

not the pulsing life I felt in my womb.”

 

Eyes reddened, silent, struggling to stand,

beloved friend called, then took her hand.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple

whom he loved waiting there, he whispered

to his mother: Woman, behold your son.”

And to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” John 19: 26-27

 

And from there they went home,

two of them … alone.

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