Palm Sunday, Church of the Homeless

Sharon Olds

Each frond has a mist of gnats around it,
as if from the donkey he sat astride.
Every pew is alive with fleas.
Five days to live. Even the last 
hour on the cross, did he hope for reprieve?
Is the loneliness of being put to death 
absolute? Or were there wood-lice in the cross,
or larvae, or did flies cluster in his palms?
Or mosquitoes may have bitten his eyelids,
or maggots, in birds’ wingpits, may have been
flown over him. And under the surface
of that hill, where the capital punishment machine
stood, were there voles, were there mice he might have trained
on Death Row, were there mouselice, dust-mites, dust-mite
dust? Who climbed his woundflow, upstream
against the coagulants? And within him, as host, there were 
virii, antibodies, synapses—
electric humanish acrobats
burning and leaping, shrieking. O Christ,
son in the hands of fathers and sons, if I 
could have, I would have lifted you down 
alive, I and the others, an army 
of us. What the state says it is all right 
to do, if it can be got away with,
people will do. We will perish from the earth.