On Seeing Caravaggio’s Christ at the Column

After the curfew two soldiers beat a man in the plaza.
In the clapped cold of the mountain I could see their faces
as they did their business. I could not see the man being beaten,
I heard his animal grunts growing softer, curtains parted for the

entertained. The soldier with the whip, his face asks why,
his body doesn’t answer. The other wraps the wrists
of Christ with a rope to immobilize him, so the whip
can hit its target. His face, too, says wonder

and death, entering by degrees through broken sinews,
a thousand eyes watching in worship.

Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.

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