by Paul Hooker

It’s about the blood—
joining boards at angles,
edges are negotiations
prone to pinch,
nails pierce like talking points,
splinters burn like lightning
beneath the skin—
red stains in the palms of hands.

It’s about the blood—
the labor of little cuts,
saw-blade nicks,
chisel slips on turning lathes,
abrasions from rough surfaces
in rapid motion,
currency to pay
for chalices and tables,
for chair legs in church parlors,
and for crosses. Always crosses.

It’s about the blood
smeared on every doorpost,
pulpit, pew—
forensic faithfulness:
a wound for every wonder.
Impassive as a judge’s smile, the paschal lamb
has nothing more to say.
The scraping of the planer’s blade
smooths the ragged faces of the cross
and with every hammer-blow the blood
sinks deeper in the heartwood
unseen and silent,
until all that’s left is argument, quid pro quo.
Leave the dead behind
in the night when angels pass,
and head for parted water.

But it’s about the blood—
crying out from every field
and every brother without a keeper,
every lamb laid on every altar,
every cup on every covenantal Table
where the wounded Body lies
awaiting autopsy
while survivors lurk in hallways
fighting over the personal effects.