Never a Man like that

Julia Lehnen, 10th Grade, March 2023

The Crucifixion MET DT10248

‘Twas hot and dry in the city as we walked down dusty roads,

My father’s hand clasped tightly as we passed by poor abodes.

A noisy crowd was passing close, ahead upon the street,

A bloody man, amid their shouts, his ragged back they beat.

I stopped, aghast, no sight I’d seen in all my tender years

That was so cruel and terrible; it brought a man to tears.

My father pulled me forward and we entered in the crowd,

It made me want to hide my face, ‘twas so noisy and so loud.

But lifting up my eyes I saw the man fall to his knees.

His mother came and met him, they shared their loving pleas.

The soldiers rudely pushed her as they got him to his feet.

I wondered how my mum would feel if on death’s way we’d meet.

My heart was torn; how could they treat one so?

Condemned to death and beaten, criminal or no.

Into my father’s flowing cape, I quickly hid my face,

Lest one should see the tears I shed at this terrible disgrace.

But suddenly, some worried cries rang up from down the road.

The column had completely stopped, the company had slowed.

The man lay prone upon the ground, his cross lay on his back.

‘Twas clear to all he’d stay like that, for all his strength was slack.

He would not make it to the place for his pained crucifixion.

They worried that he’d die right here and miss his execution.

So they looked out to the people standing in the crowd,

And their gaze fell on my father, standing nobly and proud.

They forced him to uphold the cross and carry it uphill,

They tore him right away from me, much against his will.

Then they helped the bloody man up onto his feet,

And he and my daddy carried it up the narrow, dusty street.

Now all alone amid the crowd, I felt as if I’d cry.

My daddy shifted ‘neath the weight, the man fell with a sigh.

The soldiers beat and kicked him, they never let him rest.

The angry crowd went surging, all around them, pressed.

A woman came to wipe his face, amid the jeers and shouts.

But she was pushed away– towards me, or thereabouts.

My father then demanded them that they keep moving on,

Or else he’d leave and not return, and with me he’d be gone.

The procession then began again, climbing up the hill,

My father held the cross upright, the man was stumbling still.

My breath I caught as then again, the bloody man went down.

And then again they beat him, and kicked against his crown.

Then finally they reached the top, my father dropped the cross,

But he only stood there, as though he felt quite lost.

He gazed into the man’s bruised face, it softened for a while.

A humble thank you came from him, and then a gentle smile.

But then the soldiers came back in and tore his garments off.

Then they sent away my father with an angry jeer and scoff.

My father seemed reluctant, and I was terrified.

I could not bear to see the suff’ring man be crucified.

My daddy hid me in his cloak, he covered up my ears,

But this could not keep out the sound of iron nails that pierce.

I heard the blood, I heard his cry, he called forgiveness  to the sky.

Forgiveness too, he called from God, for all the passers-by.

And when they raised his cross on high and put it in the ground,

Only then could I raise my eyes and bring them up around.

I gazed at him and him at me, a dying man was he.

He had no father there for him as I had mine by me.

But when he uttered his last few words and bowed his head and died,

It was at this very moment that I really, truly cried.

Even the sky and all the earth could not hold back its tears.

As I cried for the one, the God made man, who conquered all our fears.

Julia Lehnen, 10th Grade, March 2023

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