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The Jail

After the aloneness of the garden, and You could understand their sleeping; after Judas dared the kiss in that flickering lantern light, after the shoving and the shouting and the bleeding ear, they placed You in a dirt floored jail with all the other victims.

One was mad and after hearing from some jeering others that You were a prophet, he took his filthy rag and wrapped it around Your eyes and then, dancing with glee, he would hit You again and again, shouting in his laughter, "Who did it, prophet? Who did it?" until Your nose, bleeding first, was then broken.

When he tired of his game, he found bugs and laughing, carried them to the wild-eyed drunk who had clawed in panic at the reptiles he saw crawling. Now, just asleep, with some peace from the horrors of his imaginings, the young mad man would smile and place a bug to crawl along the exhausted legs and the horror would begin again.

An evil one would just wait and watch and kick you as he snarled, for he could not bear Your eyes watching all of them with Love.

A boy child with a broken arm said through some tears, "I thought You were the one who healed" and then hid his eyes because he could not bear to watch the kicking.

The victims were there: a cripple caught in sodomy who would be stoned; a murderer not knowing why he had murdered although Barabas looked proud in his own circle of friends. They all watched. Another half-mad child did not know whether to laugh or cry, so sometimes hit his fists against the wall with curses; sometimes sat and held his head in weeping and sometimes simply stood and laughed to see You beaten.

When the woman came near and before the sullen guards could push her from the windowed wall, the shouts went up and all the words she'd ever heard inside her soul and along the streets of her past, all those words were shouted through that Thursday night and for one fractured second, she doubted that You could love her through those words.

Later, two young Galileans who knew nothing of You - only that You were bound and being beaten, they came and sat beside You. One said "Sleep" and the other nudged You to lie face down. They sat silent, their arms across their muscled chests, their eyes daring anyone, daring even the mad one to come and try to hurt You lying there in Your sleep.

You slept. But not some others. Caiaphas watched for stars, but Caiaphas had not seen Bethlehem either. Pilate's wife called out of sleep in terror. Some good Jews wept at Your blasphemy and knew that they were right. Some good Jews wept and wondered if they were wrong and a boy-child named Saul reread his Law by candlelight.

Your mother did not sleep, but pretended to for John's sake. All John did was pace and remember that he had slept when You had asked him to be awake. A man from Cyrene turned in his sleeping place and wondered what Yahweh would ask of him tomorrow.

All night - and it was dark and acrid - some dull lightning throbbing against the earth's rim, over dying fires and restless sleep, all night the lightning throbbed.

Dawn came with bird song and the night's dark turning into purple, then rose, then blue and one jailer who had seen You heal a cripple, brought You a shallow bowl of water. You washed, unbound for this washing, for You knew the blood clotted on Your face would worry those who loved You. You heard the cock crow the third time and knew Simon Peter's tears.

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