Simon of Cyrene

after James Wright

I saw the spears, the cross, the crown of jest.

Behind, a shove—I fell out from the crowd.

I felt the press of wood against my chest.

Beneath his yoke, I bore the weight; too proud

To hold the gaze that came from eyes of ash,

Though days ago, I stood with palm leaves strewn.

My help was like the morning’s missing lash:

He had to live to see the afternoon.

Now every day I wake and walk that hill again.

The dust, the sun, the thorns, the ache of stones—

The details freshly resurrected when

Once at the top, I sit among the bones—

The wine and gall, the dice, the final cry.

I tasted death with him, then watched him die.

—Madeleine Fentress

Published in the 2012-07-13 issue: 

Madeleine Fentress is assistant editor of The Hudson Review. Originally from St. Louis, she lives in New York.

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