Palm-fronds and garments flung between the hooves,
clamour of welcome for a conqueror,
inauguration of an age chain-free . . .
Despite all earlier hints
the outcome seemed to let the shouters down.
This was to be an empire of submission:
instead of protest, service
instead of insurrection, peace.
At the other end of the week, God said,
‘Let there be blood.’ And there was blood.
His palms that cured the blind and mad
got hammered to the crossbar.
The makeshift tree became stained this time
with the red knowledge of obedience.
No friends stood by their king who hung there scorned
a felon, a failure, a mere laughing-stock
who pleaded to the dark unanswering sky.
We’re meant to clasp that starless paradox.
That apparent loss of God contains our hope
all that we dread unshirked and undergone
by one who dared the worst the world can do.
An empty tomb at daybreak shone with proof.
One wounded hand unlocked the gate of death
to show the proper end of frailty and pain
is that quiet passing into paradise
no dust, no yelling, no mistaken dream;
admission to a place where we belong.
–Harry Guest, 1998