The crucifix is ten inches long, its metal staves a mere quarter inch wide and made of brass, though it never used to be so obvious that its glow was only a thin layer of gold, probably dipped into a vat for half a second, then hung to dry, and, I believe this because there is residue at the bottom, a thickening that wasn’t been trimmed as neatly as one might think, considering that it is Jesus who hangs from the cross in all his muscled beauty. He is skewered in each palm just above the wrist with screws, his fingers folded downward. His head leans to the left, my left, and his hair, if I ignore the crown of thorns which is somewhat less threatening because the metal has smoothed out the details, I am reminded of the boys I knew when I was young, when we were flower children in paisley shirts, bell bottom pants, our heads wreathed with daisies. This Jesus is as beautiful as they were, those boys who smoked pot and loved the Doors, naked to the waist, playing volleyball in the sand, their skin as gold as this man-god here on my cross. Instead of knee-length board shorts, this Jesus wears a cloth that fits along his hip bones, loose and gently draped which makes me wonder how it could stay on, given the treatment he received by Pilot’s strong-arm soldiers as he trudged along the dusty Via Dolorosa carrying that rugged wooden cross. The bones in his legs must have shuddered under the weight, yet here on this plated cross, his legs look strong and graceful, his right foot placed over his left and secured as with his palms. The whole of him is solemn, sad, the cross itself light-weight and cold in my hand. I run my fingertip along the ragged bottom edge. Press it into the skin, feel its light discomfort, press it harder. Given to us, my sister has its twin, by Father Ara at my mother’s grave, blessing us after he’d blessed her.  Though the pain was sharper then, I am sadder now than I was the day we saw lowered into the ground because the cross warming in my hand, offered me an assuring comfort, a comfort I no longer feel and no longer believe in.

7 Comments

  1. Chelsea Stickle

    I love the turn here, how Jesus is humanized by his likeness to others: “If I ignore the crown of thorns which is somewhat less threatening because the metal has smoothed out the details, I am reminded of the boys I knew when I was young, when we were flower children in paisley shirts, bell bottom pants, our heads wreathed with daisies. This Jesus is as beautiful as they were, those boys who smoked pot and loved the Doors, naked to the waist, playing volleyball in the sand, their skin as gold as this man-god here on my cross.” Jesus as the hippie he basically was. Your details are excellent. The ending, too, is great. The cheaply made cross with its sharp bottom triggering a physical discomfort to match the emotional one.

  2. David O'Connor

    I love how such an object can bring back so many memories and spur such questions of faith (or loss of). Really beautiful, as a recovering catholic and hippie (lol), I can relate to everything here from The Doors to the Priest searching for platitudes. Honest and brave writing, thank you for sharing. Great description. Well done.

  3. Tommy Dean

    I love the start of a close-up camera view of this metal cross pendant…a familiar object, but the close-up gives it a vitality, an interest we might not have taken before. There’s a tension in this close inspection, because we’re waiting for the camera to pan out and wondering what this voice will inspect next!

    “I believe this because there is residue at the bottom, a thickening that wasn’t been trimmed as neatly as one might think, considering that it is Jesus who hangs from the cross in all his muscled beauty.” I love the way this moves out from the pendant to the actual body of Jesus, the quick voice of judgment on the word beauty! How the pendant should be of better quality, but that the crowns being made this way is actually less scary. There’s so much going on in these descriptions! all of it unsaid!

    I love the way this shifts toward a memory of boys, imperfect, but beautiful, the way Jesus and these boys create a dichotomy, way to show opposites, but also show their twinned beauty! There’s a deeper feeling of perfection and imperfection going on here too that is just so well-done!

    “The bones in his legs must have shuddered under the weight, yet here on this plated cross, his legs look strong and graceful, his right foot placed over his left and secured as with his palms.” Again this comparison is just great! This wondering is so real, so evocative! And then the turn or shift again back to yourself and your feelings in the past and this sharp contrast even now as you examine this object! This is just beautiful! This such a well-balanced cnf piece!

  4. Constance Malloy

    Gay, this is a gorgeous piece of writing. You have burned the image of this cross into my mind. By detailing the specifics of this cross, you have taken an image and object we all know well and made the reader see this cross. Your cross. This whole piece is a journey from the personal to the universal back to the personal. Well done! I hope you submit this!

  5. Francine Witte

    i love the whole thing about the hippies and how Jesus would have fit right in. Really good details here.

  6. Meg Tuite

    Hi Gay!
    WOW!! You have rocked this crucifix into numerous memories and feelings. The hippy era with the flower boys, the priest, religion and how we change with it, and of course the mother’s funeral. This is visceral in every sense of the word. I can feel the sharp corners of its religious being and its stupor. You’ve got a beauty here. I hope you’ll send it out. LOVE!

  7. Clementine Burnley

    Hi Gay, I really, really enjoyed this piece! The beginning draws attention immediately. I had to read on, I loved and could relate to the seventies period details, and they were so evocative, so lovingly done. I can’t point to any one specific sentence, it would have to be all of them. The ending is perfect.

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