My Cross by Joe Tessitore The shadow of my cross draws near and I recoil in abject fear! Such agony I cannot bear - to ponder it I do not dare! I am a weakling; this I know. Its weight alone will lay me low - to die its unforgiving death, in searing pain, gasping for breath! But Jesus Christ has made it clear -the only way to enter here. These gates unlock; there is a key: “take up your cross and follow Me.” My epitaph, now carved in stone: “He tried to carry it alone.” Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet. Pietá by Tonya McQuade His lifeless body cradled in her arms, She peers with eyes of sorrow at her son. In Italy, a hundred times I saw This image of Madonna, so undone. Distraught, she wonders how it came to this; How could his godly father let him die? Examining his wounds, his body bruised, She searches for a reason, questions why. On painted wood and canvas, Mary cries; In plaster, marble, stone, her son lies still; On tapestries and vases, humbly veiled, This piteous saint reflects upon God’s will. In some, our Savior wears his crown of thorns; In others, there’s a halo ‘round his head. With just a cloth to hide his naked frame, It seems the end has come, the Lord is dead. Dear Mary ponders all this in her heart, Yet knows her son had said he’d rise again; She holds out hope, her fiery faith still strong, That all this served a purpose, souls to win. All frozen in that moment, so bereft, These pietas, with sorrow, weigh us down – So woeful, tortured, downcast, and forlorn, As blood drips from Christ’s side and thorny crown. If, seeing, viewers think this marked the end, The last time that this mother saw her son, It’s clear the story’s ending they’ve not heard: That Jesus resurrected, victory won. I’d love to see the look in Mary’s eyes When to his mother he again appeared – The love, the joy, the peace she must have felt, Replacing all she must, at times, have feared. Most famous is the marble Pietá That stands inside St. Peter’s, bathed in light; A youthful Mary, in a full gown draped, Holds tenderly her son, cold, stony white. Carved by the sculptor Michelangelo, The statue helped to launch his bright career – The tenderness he captured in her eyes, The way they, real and natural, appear. So many have portrayed the Pietá, Some adding saints and patrons to the scene - In frescoes and upon cathedral walls, On ceilings, tiled floors, and painted screen. Their many varied forms inspire awe, From ancient times to this, our present day. I’m happy that, while traveling, we saw So many as we journeyed on our way. Tonya McQuade is an English teacher at Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, CA, and lives with her husband in San Jose, CA. She has been writing poetry since fourth grade and is currently a member of Poetry Center San Jose. She has been published in Poetry.com’s America at the Millennium: The Best Poems and Poets of the 20th Century, Pushpen Press’s Three: An Anthology of Flash Non-Fiction, and California Teacher Association’s digital California Educator. The Pietá by Michael Charles Maibach The mother holds Her son, now slain. She'll never speak With Him again. Her youthful look Conceals her age. Perhaps a sign— Her holy stage. She cradles Him As if newborn, A sense of wonder Beyond the scorn. Three blessèd years Creation served. This brought Him thorns, Pain unreserved. He met the test, A test Divine. At last with Mary, In safe recline. She looks upon Her Son's own face. The boy she loved, So filled with grace. She asks her God "Why’s this my role?" "And why my Son Has paid this toll?" Abiding faith Makes her strong. As they sing His funeral song. She says goodbye, With arms and eyes, His trial now past, His prospects rise. Two thousand years From this one scene, His time on earth Still makes souls clean. We men of faith, We look for signs. Is God for real For all our times? The answer found In this true art, Trust in God— Press Son to heart.