I Have Graven You upon My Palms

I have graven you upon my palms. 

Isaiah 49:16

Long ago your hands clung ’round Mary’s neck, 
tiny fingers twining her hair about them
while she hugged you to her breast.
Later Joseph held your boy-hand secure within his firm grasp 
as you walked the road together on your first pilgrimage to Jerusalem
and taught those hands to handle lathe 
and plane rough wood beams to smooth usefulness.

Your hands blessed and healed,
tousled the curly heads of the children who flocked around you,
and wrote in the dust as the elders looked on,
hoping to ensnare you, too, in the trap laid for the adulteress.

Raised in thanksgiving,
your hands
multiplied the loaves and fishes
and broke bread 
to feed your disciples’ hunger with much more than crushed wheat.

Then those same hands 
that washed soiled feet 
(and stained, sin-encrusted souls)
were wrenched and held fast,
forced to the crossbeam as the executioner plied open your fingers
and drove iron through your palms,
inscribing my name upon them.

Tendons mangled and severed, 
nerves vibrating in agony,
muscles contorted in tight spasms –
those hands were made useless
except to hold you pinioned to the cross
as your body sagged, 
its weight straining and pressing raw against the nails.

Your hands, once so wounded and so bloodied,
still bear the hard-won battle scars –
now a sign of victory and glory 
and record of the price you paid for me.

These wounds indelibly written upon your flesh
plead on my behalf before the throne of God
where you stand and never cease to intercede as the Lamb slain for me.


Copyright © 1998 by Jeanne Kun

Top image:  The Death of Jesus (La mort de Jésus), by James Tissot, opaque watercolor over graphite, cropped,  1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum. Source from Wikimedia Commons.

From the series: Awakened to Eternity: A spiritual journey of poems reflecting on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by Jeanne Kun

Follow links to other poems in this series:

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