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  • Maura H. Harrison

A Sip from Sponge upon Our Hyssop

by Maura H. Harrison

Ekphrastic poem about the sanctuary at

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, Fredericksburg, VA

Jesus is on the cross. He’s still alive.

His eyes—half closed—survey the church, and to

His pain small crying babies add their song.

The penitent line up for contra dance

and lay their prayers, like palms, along His path.

With vinegar and hyssop (cheapest wine

And lowest shrub) we come into his presence.

He takes our lesser things and makes them new.

Here, in this church, Christ’s countenance contains

A lengthening exhale, the knowing sigh

That all has been accomplished. “Thirst, I thirst

For you” is what you see and hear and feel.

And looking up, we come with wine and gall,

repenting tears collected over forty

examined days with desert sticks. He knows,

and takes a sip from sponge upon our hyssop.

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