For Joseph of Arimathea

Michael Angel Martín

When you ask Pilate’s men
if you can dismount the body
from the cross, they yes you away
like mothers who cannot be bothered.
At work, you recall when the prayer
that body had taught his followers
reached you. By then it had mangled
like a rumor in a game of telephone.
Still, sliding the hammer claw from iron,
you take a break to breathe it.

When you extract the last nail,
it’s not as thunderous as you expect;
No crows squawk in the millions,
no speedy clustering of storm clouds,
no firmamental call for repentance.
It sounds like a cork’s squeak and pop.
You think you may have made a mistake.
But you lay him, limb by brittle limb,
tender as anointment, on Golgothan gravel,
and ready his body for the grave
you gave up for him anyway.