His shirt came off, and every man fell back
Before the scrawl of skin and bone. His rack
Of ribs we counted one by one, and knew
This man, exposed. He flung His arms from beam
To beam across our sky; those stretched sinews
Of weakness! Antithesis of our dream!
We gape. He welcomes us to enter in
With Him. Shakes from our brains and backs
Our made-up manliness, forgives our sin.
And makes our withered limbs, exposed, attack
The scoffing with a givenness that breaks
And pours out all its aching as bold strakes
Of light. He takes our cross, we climb the slope
To die with Him, and stake ourselves to hope.

A note from the poet: This poem is inspired by Francisco de Zurbarán’s The Crucifixion. There is something hauntingly human about the Christ Zurbarán painted. I noticed especially His weakness and His exposure, two things that most men disdain. Yet perhaps these two things are very close to the center of the power of the Crucifixion and the response Christ asks of men today.


Kyle Lehman is a teacher and poet who loves to watch things grow, like seeds, strange ideas, hay bales, and the moon.

Art by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

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