|The artist Edwina Sandys with her sculpture “Christa,” the centerpiece of an exhibition [at New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine] of more than 50 contemporary works that interpret the symbolism associated with the image of Jesus. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times, October 4, 2016|
Nowadays, it’s easy to imagine a suffering Christa—
the mothers of Aleppo, limp children at the breast,
Black mothers in America bent over sons in the road,
the mothers called to school in the wake of a shooter.
Who feels the world’s nails more keenly than the mother,
flesh pierced by the suffering of those she formed and suckled,
side oozing, rib cage unable to rise as her children lose breath?
She hangs between stars and rubble, arms outspread.
Lift her your sponge of vinegar. Sit vigil.
You do not need to believe, only bear witness.
Better yet, shield the tender bodies of her young.
Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, OR. Her poems have found many homes, for which she is grateful. She welcomes contact from her readers.