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GOOD FRIDAY NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT

I wrote once of Christ swimming

on the cross. A friend
suggested I stop such things -
and now I can't recall
if the image was stolen,
probably from Hill.  I wrote
about Christ often when eighteen.
I loved the spring.
It came violently in Quebec, then.

And I had been born
on a Good Friday. If Christ
swam on the cross, he didn't drown.
He took the wood as a boat.
Water was always good to Christ.
God flooded the world easily.
When the ferry overturned
it took hundreds of kids

into a place without breathing.
They did not walk up out of there
like Jesus. I don't blame God
for disasters at sea. I do, though
wonder at prayer, at praying,
when it seems God rarely hears.
But back to Christ on his oars,
rowing his lungs back

to crushing his own breathing
down.  He drowned on the cross
in the blue air of spring.
But it would have felt like summer
in the heat. He dove into
his crucifixion like it was a lake
clear as a promise to be kind.
To be good. He swam out to

the raft, to cling to the wood
that did him no good, that saves us
somehow. Theology
is the way we puzzle out
the mystery of that swim
up there, in blood and oxygen,
Jesus our fish the Romans caught,
that the crowd threw back,

selecting Barabbas for the feast.
At least I wish I had thought
first of Christ swimming;
he usually walked on water;
but I prefer him doing lengths
of the cross, his arms stretched
in a breaststroke of awe and pain.
He suffered doing the crawl

on his lifeguard's chair
they nailed him to for the summer.
I love good Jesus for his distance
swim from God to where
we stood on the sand
waiting for him to come out
of the waves; to rise up out
like Venus. Beauty saves, but

more truly, for a carpenter, does
a stern and bow, a mast and maidenhead.
Jesus sailed out of the sea of the dead.
His body dripping love for me.
And I am crazy to say so,
but my fideism is such I love the myth
because it is may be true, and feels
true when I say it in my mind;

that the one who is most kind
floats free of the wreck's SOS.
This isn't the sombre lies I planned
to plane out, my own crafted object
striving to line up words with need -
but I don't feel you require any pathos
to understand that a carpenter sank
when he took up his woodwork

and broke the bank of heaven's clouds
with his calm strong arms;
and the lake of the onlooker's tears
ran like a river of vinegar
into the place where balm and horror
meet. And they never broke
his legs or feet, the soldiers:
he came off his ship last, the captain.


Good Friday, AD 2014
new poem by Todd Swift
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