Plastic Jesus

The plastic crucifix draped

with my grandmother’s rosary

hung above the dresser

in our parents bedroom,

 

Jesus glued to the cross

he’d been knocked off

after a drunken tumble

my father took the night

 

his forehead caught the corner

of the cedar chest and bled

a mess like a wine bottle broken

on a Jackson Pollack canvas.

 

My dad had found the crucifix

hanging on the only wall left

standing from a bombed-out

house in Belgium, 1944,

 

and brought it back home.

They survived the war

and the trip across the ocean

much like his Irish mother had

 

with her rosary beads in 1916.

Today what’s sacred to me

are my family’s stories

of conflict and hope nailed

 

in these Christian totems,

their struggles with fear,

their yearnings to live free,

to know, to trust, to be

 

honest with, loyal to one

another. Like my Old Man,

I refuse to buy that

pie-in-the-sky bullshit

 

designed to keep us in line.

Not blood, but glue drips

from Christ’s feet and wrists

(my father’s blood wiped clean

 

long ago). The Virgin Mary

and The Son were rubbed away

by my grandmother’s thumbs

on that old wooden rosary, now

 

faded as my dad’s faith in

the afterlife. My Old Man’s

“after life” is me, as my own

afterlife belongs to my sons.

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