A Bach fugue has the Crucifixion in it
You do not see him coming—his slow hands
heavy with nails. His long face stays hidden
beneath a black hood. His hammer’s just blunt—
nothing else. You stay stretched out and he stands
behind you. His breath provides the constant
beat. Time doesn’t count. It meets—here—its end.
This moment, though serious, touches light
with pale fingers and tickles you to joy—
the joy of numbers that hold square and true
to a hammer’s voice. The nail scratches you
like God’s kiss and now your sound’s perfect toy.
The pain’s built of delicate notes in flight.
Your flesh is pierced sharply—square on the beat.
Prayer must be like this. It always asks you
to hand over more than you have. The work
is joy but the melody you hear defeats
your fingers—blunt nails, warm flesh. You jerk
your hands away. Count time: One. Two. One, two…
Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War, just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks—Three Visitors, Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner, are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He lives with his wife, the activist and documentarian Joan Juster, and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco. A meager online presence can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter.